Born in 1939 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jack Kelso came to Ocean Falls, Canada, with his family when he was 12 years old. One year after arriving, Jack learned to swim through the Ocean Falls Amateur Swim Club and was winning meets on the North West coast. The coach at the time was George Gate.
Jack was a member of the Ocean Falls Amateur Swim Club from 1953-1958 and again in 1962-63-64-65 (summers only) – around the same time as Sandy Gilchrist. He trained up to two hours a day, five days a week under the guidance of Mr. Gate until 1964. He won six medals in international competition for the club and won the NCAA Division 1 200 Individual Medley in 1961. He was a runner-up for the same event in 1962.
After graduating from high-school he moved to California to swim for Long Beach City College. Some of his early achievements include 2 silver and 4 bronze medals in international competitions (Olympic, Pan American, Commonwealth Games). He also held the Canadian national championship titles in the 100- and 200-metre breaststroke and the 200- and 400-metre individual medley from 1960 to 1964.
After retiring from competitive swimming, Jack acquired his master’s degree in Physical Education and a PhD in California. For nearly 20 years, he and his wife, a librarian, worked in international schools in Jamaica, Pakistan, Holland and Japan.
Jack always remained close to swimming, overseeing aquatic facilities, coaching, teaching lifeguards, establishing programs and building swim teams. At the age of 76, Jack is currently a resident of Richmond, BC, and is still competing at a Masters level and breaking records.
When I asked Jack if he had any single memory of his time with the club his response was “no single one – I have a lot of them. Without the opportunity to learn to swim and compete in Ocean Falls through the mastery of George Gate, I would never have realized my lifelong ambitions. I swam for a living, receiving my advanced education from it, and coached and taught swimming all of my life–not a bad way to live!”
Posted by Susan with thanks to Jack Kelso for sharing his story and Jack Kelso for providing information via “The History of Ocean Falls Amateur Swimming Club – 1926-1974” and “Ocean Falls – Story of a Swimming Town“.