Pair enjoying Pan Am experience

Both Jim Brow and Pat Giles first got their start in swimming by taking a keen interest in their children’s activities many years ago.
Now, that interest has culminated in both finding themselves at the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg this week as official timers for swimming events.
Both stressed the experience they’ve received to this point has far outweighed the time they’ve put in.
There’s no monetary reward, and very little recognition. Just the satisfaction of doing a job well done–much like the thousands of other volunteers on hand–to ensure the Games go off without a hitch.
But it’s an experience they wouldn’t trade for the world.
“It’s my first time [at the Games] and it’s been great to be that close to the athletes and to hear the intensity of the crowd noise,” said Giles, who first got involved in swimming with the Borderland Piranhas in Rainy River in 1985.
“It’s been a tremendous opportunity to meet people from differing communities. It’s been quite special,” he added.
What has been special to Brow so far is the chance to interact with athletes and officials from various countries during an international competition.
Sure, it’s not the Olympics, but it’s the next best thing. And the pair have had a firsthand look at the action.
“The Games have been so well organized, and it’s been exciting because this [meet] has been important to Canada because it is being used as a qualifier for the [2000] Olympics in Sydney,” said Brow, who worked at the Canada Games in Thunder Bay in 1981.
“I’ve enjoyed watching the coaches and how they react, and how the crowds have responded,” he noted. “When [Joanne Malar] came in the last leg of the 400-m IM to set a Canadian and Pan Am record, the crowd was just screaming like mad.”
Both admitted the highlight so far was seeing Canadian swimmers like Malar set new marks in the pool right before their eyes. And with the Pan Am Pool once again turning out fast times, it’s certainly possible a new record could be broken before the Games wrap up Saturday.
What may be impossible, however, is the opportunity for the pair to be an official at future Pan Am Games. And as for the Olympic Games, both would need to chalk up more international experience, which would prove both costly and time-consuming.
Still, both admitted they never dreamed they would have a chance to take part in a Pan Am Games when they first took an interest in swimming with their kids years ago.
And it’s an experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.