I’ve been Facebooking and emailing a few of the swimmers from Ocean Falls to find out more about them and what it was like to swim for the club “back in the day.” Sandy Gilchrist was kindly replied. Here’s what he said:
“I was born in Ocean Falls as were my eight brothers and sisters and all of us swam to some degree. My older brother Allen started the process and swam in two Olympic Games, 1948 and 1952. I swam in two Olympic Games as well, 1964 and 1968.
After high school in 1963 I attended the University of Southern California (USC) on a swimming scholarship. From 1962 until retirement in 1968 I was on all Canada’s international teams and took the Oath of Amateurism for all athletes in the 1967 Pan American Games.”
When I think about Sandy and his incredible swim history I am in awe. Not just because of his achievements but because he trained in a tiny remote community in a 20 yard, 4 lane pool. Most modern athletes would turn their nose up at such a facility wanting to training in Olympic size pools with full gyms near by. But perhaps Sandy and some of the other Ocean Falls swimmers had something greater than any facility could every offer, and that was the support of an incredible coach and a fantastic community?
George Gate was Sandy’s coach until he moved on to swim for USC. Sandy’s father was instrumental in hiring him. He had only had two coaches in his career, George Gate and
Peter Daland of USC. He has fond memories of Mr. Gate and holds him in high regard. “It would take volumes to tell you what George did for me and hundreds of others.”
Sandy’s been back to Ocean Falls many times and bought Kimsquit Lodge that became the hospital about 1975.
His daughters have been to Ocean Falls a number of times as well. His youngest will be representing the USA in women’s water polo in this summer’s Olympic Games. Her family affectionately refers to her club team as the Ocean Falls Swim Club.
Medal winners in the Pan Am games held in Sao Paolo, Brazil; Sandy Gilchrist, Jack Kelso, Ralph Hutton and coach George Gate. Ocean Falls
Posted by Susan with thanks to Sandy Gilchrist for sharing his story and Jack Kelso for providing information via “The History of Ocean Falls Amateur Swimming Club – 1926-1974”