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Swim Parent of the Month- Rio Edition
With the Rio Games fast approaching, it is time to highlight some of the parents of both our Olympic and Paralympic teams. These parents have been a part of the swimming community for many years and it is important to recognize the hard work and dedication they have demonstrated to get their swimmers to where they are today.
GET TO KNOW OUR WINNERs, Gerry Kisil and michel Leroux:
Gerry Kisil is a father of two and his son Yuri is an Olympic-bound sprinter. Gerry and his wife Jocelyn entered both Yuri and his older sister Dinah into the YMCA baby/parent swimming classes when they were very little to get them accustomed to the water. As both kids got older, they progressed through the YMCA’s non-competitive swimming program. He credits their success in swimming lessons to the great instructors that they both had over the years. With it being a positive experience for both Yuri and his sister, Gerry and his wife decided to enroll them into competitive swimming.
Gerry was very involved in Yuri’s competitive swimming journey. He took part in banquets, volunteered at events, participated in swim meets, took on fundraising roles and drove Yuri to and from practice. As Yuri got older and away meets became more frequent, they would often travel together.
Prior to Yuri being a national team member, Gerry realized that being a swim parent was a full-time job. It The lack of free time, in his opinion, was the hardest aspect of the job; by the time his swim parent responsibilities were completed, there was minimal time left for groceries, cleaning, laundry or cooking, especially on weekends when they were travelling. Now that Yuri is grown up and attending university, Gerry does not have those responsibilities anymore.
Looking back at his time as a swim parent, Gerry came to the conclusion that there was no single moment that stuck out to him above the rest. Instead, it was the athletes, coaches and families whom he met along the way that were his greatest memories. He got satisfaction out of being involved in Yuri’s life and watching not only his son, but other swimmers grow into outstanding athletes.
With his experience as a swim parent, he has given some advice to future swim parents:
“Swimming is a great way to get to know your kids and develop a relationship with them that will hopefully last your lifetime. Be a good listener and learn to enjoy the different experiences you’ll share while they’re swimming. If you are interested in what they are doing, and if you’re having fun with them doing it, then they will have fun too. Finally, think long term, it’s a lifestyle thing, you want to make balance, fitness and healthy eating important aspects of their life characters.”
- Gerry Kisil
The Kisil family loves chicken! Their favourite recipe is: Lemon Roasted Chicken.
From all of us at Swimming Canada and Canada’s Swim Team, we would like to thank Gerry for his hard work and dedication as a swim parent over the years and we would like to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!
Michel Leroux is the father of Paralympic rookie, James Leroux. He introduced James to swimming at a young age, as they had a pool in their backyard. It became clear that James loved to be in the water, and at the age of 5, Michel enrolled James into swimming lessons at Torpille Swim Club.
Michel was always by James’s side throughout his swimming career. He would accompany him to the pool for both practices and swim meets. As James progressed, Michel provided a calming environment and ensured that his son was adjusting to his new training. Given that Michel is both an official and board member for his swim club, on top of the role he played in his son’s life, it became evident that Michel was dedicated to James’s swimming.
Being a swim parent is never easy, and one of the challenges Michel faced was helping James with the mental aspect of the swimming world. He would listen to his son and together they would talk through the mental challenges of the sport. He was not there to tell James what to do, that is what his coach was for; he was there to love and support his son in any way possible.
One of his most memorable moments with James was a conversation they shared when he was only eight years old. James looked at his father and said “Dad, I would like to compete at the Olympics.” Now, 10 years later, Michel is very excited to watch his son compete at his first Paralympic Games this September in Rio.
Looking back on his experience as a swim parent, he would like to give some advice to future swim parents:
“Encourage your swimmer as much as possible and be present for the important swimming moments in their lives. Let the coach do the training, but be there and support your swimmer. Remember that during the season, your swimmer is spending more time with their coaches then they are you, so take advantage of any moment you have with your swimmer when they are not at the pool.”
- Michel Leroux
When home with his family, Michel loves to cook Blueberry Balsamic Chicken over Dandelion Greens
From all of us at Swimming Canada and Canada’s Swim Team, we would like to thank Michel for his hard work and dedication as a swim parent over the years and we would like to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!
1. Darci Greenfield, Victoria, BC
2. Sylvie Potvin, Prevost, QC
3. A Eckstein, Calgary, AB
4. Scott Forbes, Oakville, ON
5. Rosalyn Nickerson, Saint John, NB
6. Carrie Bacher, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, QC
7. Michelle Neilson, Winnipeg, MB
8. Todd Bonnar, Victoria, BC
9. Doug Cambell, Exeter, ON
10. Kim Telford, Whitby, ON
11. Allison Eichorst, Humboldt, SK
12. Shelley Broadley, Okotoks, AB
13. Liz Beaton, St Thomas, ON
14. Judy Durnin, LaSalle, QC
15. Brandi Machan, Perth, ON
16. Robyn Smith-Andrews , Conception Bay South, NL
17. Caroline Chong Yen, Toronto, ON
18. Nancy Lagacé, Campbellton, NB
19. Renée Verlaan, Montreal, QC
20. Cameron Grant, Red Deer, AB
21. Tamara Hawkins, Whitby, ON
22. Cookie Kucheran, Sudbury, ON
23. Berna Aticibasi, Toronto, ON
24. Janet Gurtler, Okotoks, AB
25. Cheryn Thoun, Toronto, ON
26. Dima Lavcheva, Laval, OC
27. Ophelia Ko, Richmond Hill, ON
28. Sharon Van Beilen, Oakville, ON
29. Kim, Ancaster, ON