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Jimmy Thompson coach Hamilton Aquatic Club

 
 

(This article was written by George's coach, Jimmy Thompson, and published in the 1955 Hamilton Aquatic Club Christmas Carnival Program)

George Park, one of Canada's outstanding swimming stars who has, over the years, graduated step by step from the Hamilton Aquatic Club's Learn-to-Swim Club, into the file of international top bracket competition, and to-day is recognized as one who can carry Canada's name into the world's fastest competition.

This young stalwart of the fine Hamilton Police Department, is of exemplary character and fine sporting instincts and typifies the true meaning of Canadian youth, and his achievements in the swimming annals of Canada are ideals that the youth of our city look upon in admiration and pride.

George's career has not always been one of a champion. Many years of training and perseverance has brought about this rise to athletic prominence, and this past two years has seen him come into his just desserts.

In 1954 he won the 110 yards Dominion Freestyle title at Vancouver and established a new record, then came the British Empire Games and he was selected to carry Canada's colours. His performance in every event he participated in was an outstanding effort, winning points for Canada's swim team.

Next came George's biggest step into the field of world prominence as he was selected to represent Canada at the Pan-American Games in Mexico City in March, 1955. This young Canadian swimmer entered the final of the 100 metres Freestyle event and his performance was just surpassed by the United States star, Clark Scholes, who holds the world's Olympic Championship for this event. Park finished in second place and although beaten by the world's fastest swimmer, he felt that if given another opportunity he could overcome Schole's speed, and this he did upon the second meeting of these two swimming greats, and on July of this year, at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Championship meet, George Park defeated the champion over the 100 metres and created a new pool record for the event before a vast crowd of American spectators and swim authorities who had never seen Scholes beaten in international competition before. Park's other achievements in 1955 were the winning effort he displayed at Montreal to defeat the Americans in the Canadian Championships, and also the establishing of a new Canadian Record for the 100 yard Freestyle and also two new Butterfly records, and with him just now reaching his prime Hamilton can stand assured that maybe it will have a world's swimming title holder on its doorstep.

 

My Coach Jimmy Thompson

The Hamilton Aquatic Club began as an informal group in the late 1920's and was officially formed in 1932. Its members strongly influenced the organization of the aquatic portion of the First British Empire Games held in Hamilton, Ontario in 1930. As an umbrella association that included water polo, diving, open water swimming and competitive swimming it's adopted policy was to ensure that all athletes have the opportunity to participate regardless of financial status.

Jimmy Thompson became the first coach of the Hamilton Aquatic Club in 1932. He devoted over 30 years of his life teaching over sixty thousand children how to swim. He was also credited for developing some of Canada's finest swimmers, divers and water polo players.

The strength of the Hamilton Aquatic Club was that it was always operated on a strong volunteer basis. The longest serving volunteer member was the Hall of Famer Jack McCormick. A founding member and athlete, Jack served the club later as a coach and administrator until when his health did not allow him to continue.

Among the achievements by the club's members are Canadian and World Records, Olympic athletes and coaches, and the only two Canadian starters at an Olympic Games. The club's success is well measured by the number of members who have been included into the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame, among them, Jimmy Thompson, Jack McCormick, George Larson, Robert Thompson, and David Hart. Other notable members are Irene MacDonald, Gerry Thomas, Patty Thompson, George Steplock, Dan Sherry, George Park, Tom Park, Thurlow Park and Margaret Park, just to name a few.


SPEEDO GREASE.... Jimmy Tompson my coach told me when I was ten years old all about SPEEDO GREASE.

We were at a swimming meet in Dundas a town 7 miles from our home town Hamilton, I was ten, my brother Thurlow was 12 and two other guys from our club were also 12. The team from Dundas were at the end of the age group for the under 14 relay and appeared to be giants.

Our team was very nervous. Our coach said "Don't worry boys we'll do fine we have SPEEDO GREASE". Jimmy then told us to meet him in the change room just before the race and he would put on the SPEEDO GREASE and we would just slip through the water. He also told us not to tell the other team about it, as he didn't want anyone to know about SPEEDO GREASE.

Guess what? We went up to the other team (the giants) and told them we were going to beat them, we felt great.

Just before the race we went to the dressing room, met the coach to get our SPEEDO GREASE on so we could win. He said "you don't need SPEEDO GREASE get in there and win", we did.


PATTY THOMPSON

A World Champion Marathoner

At age 45, on August 14th, 1991, Patty Thompson became the oldest female to cross the lake with her time of 19 hours 18 minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Leslie Street Spit. The swim was supported by coach Linda Berry and Swim Master Colleen Shields. Water temperatures ranged from 70 to 74F, and her stroke rate ranged from 68 down to 60 per minute. Due to shoulder pain, she completed the last 2.5 hours on breaststroke. Feeding involved water, Ensure, or hot tea with corn syrup. A previous swim on 6th September 1990 was abandoned due to deteriorating weather after covering 15.5 miles in 6 hours 45 minutes.

Three years after her successful crossing, she is seen here at the dedication ceremony for the plaque at Niagara-on-the-lake.

Patty is a marathon swimmer of some note. She was the Woman's World Champion of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association in 1969 - beating into second place Judith de Nys of Holland who was the World Champion in 1964-1966, 1968, 1970, and 1971.

Born into a swimming family where her father, the late Jimmy Thompson was dubbed "Mr Swimming" in Hamilton, Ontario. The Thompson name is unique in Canadian swimming where three members of the family have represented Canada in Olympic Games. Jimmy Thompson was a bronze medalist in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Holland and was a gold medalist in the 1930 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, Ontario. Patty was a member of Canada's 1964 Olympic swimming team in Tokyo, Japan where she was a member of the relay team which placed seventh and she was a member of the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games swimming team in Perth, Australia placing second and third in relay events. Her brother, Robert Thompson, was a member of the 1972 Canadian Olympic waterpolo team in Munich and coached the 1984 Olympic waterpolo team in Los Angeles.

Patty's swimming career started at the age of 7 years with the Hamilton Aquatic Club which her father coached until 1965 and which she coached for three years after her father's death. She held more Ontario titles than any other female competitor in the Province, established record making marks from the 10-year-old division right through to the 15-16-year-old division, held 19 Ontario Provincial records in one year and held the Canadian records in 1962 for the 220 and 440 yard freestyle, 800 metres, 880 yards and 1500 metres freestyle, together with individual medley marks. She was the first Canadian woman in 1964 to break the 5 minute barrier for the 400 metre freestyle and was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1970 as the Women's Professional Marathon Swimming champion for winning all of her professional swims: 10 mile Hamilton marathon race; 17 mile Rhode Island marathon race; 12 mile Man and His World marathon; and a 24-hour swim in Santa Fe, Argentina. She was awarded an Achievement Award by Ontario premier Roberts in 1966 for her contribution in the field of fitness and amateur sport. She coached age-group swimmers with the Hamilton Aquatic Club, Etobicoke Memorial Swimming Club, and Alderwood Swimming Club in Etobicoke, and also instructed coaches in Hamilton and Burlington.

Patty started swimming Masters with the Alderwood Teddy Bares in 1989 and was coached by Ted Roach. In 1991, she held 4 Canadian Masters records and 10 Ontario provincial Masters records.

 

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