Great to see volunteers recognized provincially

A friend of swimming in the northwest was recognized at the annual Swimming Hall of Fame banquet over the weekend in Toronto.
Local resident Jim Brow was recognized in the Golden Roll of Honour along with five other Master swimming officials for their contribution to the sport.
For more than 30 years, Jim has volunteered for the Fort Frances Aquanauts, as well as with clubs from Kenora to Marathon to Red Lake. As a volunteer, he’s worked at meets within the region, provincial championships, national championships, and even internationally at the Pan Am Games.
Jim began his swimming officiating career as most parents do—by showing up to time his children at swim meets. All five swam competitively at some point in their lives.
But even though his youngest son left the pool more than a decade ago, Jim continues to be involved at the club and regional level, and sits on the Ontario Swim Officials Association Board.
Like most parents who become involved with their children in sports, Jim became bored with timing and chose to learn more about the strokes of his children. He began taking on different tasks at meets.
Billeting out-of-town swimmers was common in the 1980s and ’90s and the Brow household always had a home full of boys when the meets came to Fort Frances. And Jim knew almost all the swimmers on a first-name basis.
I grew to know Jim as I progressed in becoming an official. He was my mentor. I learned that as he walked around the deck, his bushy eyebrows hid an intensity of examining everything. His work in handling any situation gained him respect with his peers across the province, and they often sought out his advice on situations that rose on deck outside the area.
Swimmers can be disqualified for making any number of mistakes on strokes, on turning, on touching out at the end of a race, or even starting before the flash of the starter. I was disqualifying a young swimmer who had not touched out properly in executing a turn and I was telling her while she was in the water, visible to everyone.
Jim taught me a lesson. He pulled me aside and told me that the way I was handling the situation spotlighted the swimmer and may have caused her embarrassment.
His suggestion, which I follow to this day, is to ask the swimmer to meet you somewhere else behind the blocks or off to the side—out of the attention of the crowd—to let him or her know the mistake they had made.
Perhaps Jim is at his best at local meets. It might come as a result of being a proud grandfather, and knowing that it takes extra time and encouragement for young swimmers to become comfortable in front of large noisy crowds.
He offers encouragement. And he takes extra time allowing young swimmers who are just learning the procedures to get their goggles ready and gain their balance on the starting blocks.
The swimmers always have come first to Jim and he has gone out of his way to make their swimming experience a good one. He may be known for following the rules to the letter but throughout the region and the province, Jim is recognized for being totally impartial and fair.
It is great to see volunteers recognized provincially for the work they have done without fanfare in the local communities.
Congratulations, Jim.

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