Canada Artistic Swimming extends its sincere sympathy to the family of Julie Sauvé, the outstanding Olympic coach who passed away this week.
“The artistic swimming community in Canada has lost a legend,” said Judi Enns Bradette, President, Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS). “Our hearts go out to the Sauvé family, and the many athletes and coaches who have been touched by her work. We share in your loss.”
Best known as a highly successful Olympic coach, Julie Sauvé began as a young swimmer, competing both nationally and internationally for the Club Aquatique Montréal Olympique (CAMO). She moved into coaching with CAMO and was one of the first coaches hired when Canada Artistic Swimming began its national program in 1982. She brought Canada’s artistic swimmers to the pinnacle of success during the 1980s and 1990s. Throughout her long coaching career, Sauvé’s athletes won over 100 medals on the international scene.
Olympic Champion Sylvie Fréchette began working with Julie when she was just seven years old and considered her a second mother. The two would work together for 18 years, as Fréchette became Commonwealth Games champion in both 1986 and 1990 and was the number-one ranked swimmer in the world in 1991, before winning Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992. Sauvé was an instrumental guiding force in Fréchette’s career, as well as the duet of Penny and Vicky Vilagos, who won the silver medal in Barcelona and the 1996 team who won silver at the Atlanta Olympics.
In remembering Julie, Sylvie highlighted her passion, her drive, and her boldness to push the sport forward, “Julie opened our sport up to the world, and she opened the world up to me. She understood my ability long before I did and helped me to understand how far I could go. I’ve been hearing from people all over the world who felt the same way as I do, and who loved her as well. Although she was a bright, shining light herself, she helped everyone else to find their own inner flame and to help it burn even brighter. She took me by the hand to the highest peak. I love you, Julie Sauvé.”
She coached both Canada’s team and duet to fourth-place finishes at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, England – Canada’s best result in recent years.
The 2012 team came together to reflect and share their thoughts on their coach in a statement, “She motivated us to push our limits, and then watched us with pride as we grew stronger as athletes and women. She celebrated our victories, then supported us in the most difficult times, in and out of the water. Julie has coached, inspired, motivated, developed us, and marked our hearts forever. She challenged us, supported us, and made us laugh. Above all, she loved us. And we loved her.”
Following the 2012 Olympic Games, Julie remained active internationally, working with swimmers from several countries, including Brazil and Singapore in recent years.
Julie Sauvé was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame in 2012 and to the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.