Pan American Games History

Best Showing By The Canadian Swimmers Was In The Winnipeg Games of 1967, When They Won 28 Medals


Jack Kelso

In 1940, the Argentine Olympic Committee took the initiative to begin the formulation of a sports body that would encompass all of the various countries within North and South America. They called for a congress of 21 nations, which met and discussed the potential and creation of a multi-sport games, to be held within the geographical regions of North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. These countries agreed to come together on a four-year basis for competitions the year before each Olympic Games. The Second World War created a problem for this fledgling organization, so it was not until 1951 that the first Pan American Games was held. Argentina played host to this inaugural Games, held in Buenos Aires on February 28 to March 5. Canada did not compete in the first Games, but 20 countries did, with the domination of American athletes (especially in swimming) quickly established.

The motto for the Pan American Games is "The American spirit of friendship through sports." This became the central theme and the strength of the Games throughout their history. Sports competitions were recognized for their strong potential for bonding among the athletes of the Americas, and the Pan American Games have proven to be exemplary in promoting a friendly atmosphere for all participants.

Canadian Medal Totals All Games
Gold Silver Bronze Total
1955 4 3 2 9
1959 0 4 1 5
1963 0 6 9 15
1967 3 1213 28
1971 6 8 9 23
1975 1 12 11 24
1979 1 13 14 28
1983 2 7 10 19
1987 1 5 13 19
1991 2 8 9 19
1995 6 9 6 21

Canada began entering the Pan American Games in 1955, when it sent a reasonably strong team to the second Games, held in Mexico City. There were 21 nations competing. The Canadian women swimmers returned home with a surprising medal count of four gold, two silver, and one bronze. The Canadian men swimmers did not fare nearly as well, with only one silver and one bronze medal to their credit. This set the pattern for the rest of the Pan American Games in swimming, as the USA clearly dominated the medal wins for both men and women, with Canadian women consistently winning more medals than the Canadian men. The Canadian swimmers, however, have been perennial second-place finishers in total medal counts for most Games. The poorest showing by Canadian swimmers was in the Chicago Games of 1959, where only five medals were garnered: four silver and one bronze. The best showing by the Canadian swimmers was in the Winnipeg Games of 1967, when they won twenty-eight medals: three gold, twelve silver, and thirteen bronze.

Argentina, Mexico, and the U.S.A. have all hosted the Pan American Games twice. Canada (Winnipeg) played host to the Games in 1967 and will do so again in 1999. Countries that have hosted the Games a single time are Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Cuba. The Games have been well-distributed around the major countries involved, and they continue to create a reasonably strong international sports program each time they are held. The American swim federation has not always sent its top international stars to the Pan American Games, and in recent years U.S.A. teams have tended to be chosen on a developmental, rather than a high-priority, basis. The competition, however, remains fairly high, and with the steady improvement of teams such as Brazil and Argentina, the swimming will continue to be a challenge to the Canadian swimmers.

As many as 4,000 athletes from over 30 countries have competed in the recent Pan American Games. These Games are expected to play an important role in the development of sports and international-calibre athletes throughout the Americas into the next millenium.

Canadian Gold Medal Winners
1955, Mexico City, MEX
100 Freestyle 1:07.70 Helen Stewart
400 Freestyle 5:32.40 Beth Whittall
100 Backstroke 1:16.70 Lenora Fisher
100 Butterfly 1:16.20 Beth Whittall
1967, Winnipeg, CAN
200 Backstroke 2:12.26 Ralph Hutton
100 Backstroke 1:07.30 Elaine Tanner
200 Backstroke 2:24.40 Elaine Tanner
1971, Cali, COL
100 Backstroke 1:07.20 Donna-Marie Gurr
200 Backstroke 2:24.70 Donna-Marie Gurr
100 Breaststroke 1:18.60 Sylvie Dockerill
200 Ind. Medley 2:30.00 Leslie Cliff
400 Ind. Medley 5:13.30 Leslie Cliff
4x100 Med. Relay 4:35.00
Donna-Marie Gurr Judy Wright,
Leslie Cliff. Angela Coughlan
1975, Mexico City, MEX
100 Backstroke 1:06.59 Line Chenard
1979, San Juan, PUR
200 Breaststroke 2:35.75 Anne Gagnon
1983, Caracas, VEN
100 Breaststroke 1:10.63 Anne Ottenbrite
200 Breaststroke 2:35.53 Kathy Bald
1987, Indianapolis, USA
100 Breaststroke 1:12.46 Keltie Duggan
1991, Havana, CUB
50 Freestyle 0:26.01 Kristin Topham
100 Butterfly 1:01.18 Kristin Topham
1995, Mar del Plata, ARG
200 Ind. Medley 2:15.66 Joanne Malar
400 Ind. Medley 4:43.64 Joanne Malar
100 Breaststroke 1:10.36 Lisa Flood
200 Breaststroke 2:31.33 Lisa Flood
200 Ind. Medley 2:01.70 Curtis Myden
400 Ind. Medley 4:18.55 Curtis Myden
1999 Canadian Pan Am Team
July 24-August 8,1999 - Winnipeg
Michel Boulianne, Montreal CAMO
Dustin Hersee, Vancouver PDSA
Jason Hunter, Nanaimo NRST
Craig Hutchison, Pointe-Claire PCSC
Brian Johns, Richmond RACER
Mark Johnston, St. Catharines PDSA
Morgan Knabe, Edmonton UCSC
Yannick Lupien, Aylmer MAC
Curtis Myden, Calgary UCSC
Tim Peterson, Vancouver PDSA
Shamek Pietucha, Calgary UCSC
Rick Say, Victoria IS
Collin Sood, Calgary UCSC
Mark Versfeld, Vancouver PDSA
Owen von Richter, Mississauga ESWIM
Philip Weiss, Victoria IS
Lindsay Beavers, Orangeville STARS
Danielle Bell, Victoria IS
Katie Brambley, Vancouver PDSA
Jennifer Button, Waterloo ROW
Karine Chevrier, Montreal CAMO
Janet Cook, Hamilton HWAC
Jessica Deglau, Vancouver PDSA
Sarah Evanetz, Calgary UCSC
Erin Gammel, Barriere KCS
Marianne Limpert, Fredericton PDSA
Joanne Malar, Hamilton UCSC
Laura Nicholls, Waterloo ROW
Tara Sloan, Calgary UCSC
Kelly Stefanyshyn, Winnipeg PDSA
Lauren van Oosten, Nanaimo UCSC
Liz Warden, Toronto NYAC-TO