As Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS) held its 2022 Annual Meeting virtually, on Saturday, September 17th, it took time to celebrate accomplishments, to look to the future and to say farewell to some extraordinary members of the artistic swimming community.

Honorary Life Memberships Awarded

Four of Canada’s international judges have retired from officiating, and CAS recognized their incredible dedication and devotion to the sport by awarding them CAS Honorary Life Memberships.

The quartet being honored for exceptional meritorious service to the sport are:

Heather Archer from British Columbia who became an international judge in 1991 and retired as a FINA A Judge and FINA evaluator in 2015. She served on the FINA Technical Committee from 2009 – 2013 as well as the UANA (now known as Pan Am Aquatics) Technical Committee from 2003 – 2015. She judged at over twenty international meets, including three world championships, four Pan Am Games and two Olympic Games.

From Manitoba, Laura Ealing began judging in 1974 and became an international judge in 2003. She progressed to the FINA A level in 2009 and served at over ten international events including the Pan Am Games and Olympic Qualifiers. She also contributed over a decade as Officials Chair in Manitoba.

Louise Kennedy, also from British Columbia, began her judging career in 1973 and was appointed an international judge in 1994. She progressed to the FINA A level in 2006 and then became a FINA Evaluator in 2015.  She worked on many different committees and from 1998 – 2004 served on the Synchro Canada Board of Directors, the final two years as president of the organization. She has officiated at over twenty international competitions including the 2016 Olympic Games.

Ontario’s Diane van der Pol started judging in 1975 and was appointed to the international level in 1991 after almost twenty years as a coach. Since 2017 she has been an active FINA school instructor and lecturer, and has written countless manuals and articles for use in training judges. Known affectionately as DVP, she has judged over thirty international competitions including the 2012 Olympic Games.

Looking to the Future – New Scoring System on the Horizon

What started in Canada as a concept to revamp the Artistic Swimming scoring system to embrace technology and to keep up with the increasing complexity of performances being demonstrated by athletes is moving closer to reality.  At this annual meeting, Canada Artistic Swimming announced to its Members that it would be fully endorsing the new FINA scoring system when it votes on proposals to adopt it at the FINA Technical Congress on October 3.

“The genesis for the new scoring system came from discussions in Canada over five years ago.  Under the leadership of the FINA Technical Committee and its Chair Lisa Schott, and with the incredible attention to detail of the FINA Innovation Committee who built it step-by-step, that series of concepts has grown into a science-based, objective measurement tool that the whole international artistic swimming community has been able to embrace.  This system will better serve artistic swimming athletes who continue to drive the difficulty and creativity of the sport forward.  CAS enthusiastically supports the proposal being voted on by Member delegations at the FINA Technical Congress on October 3 – a resounding YES, stated CAS Chief Executive Officer, Jackie Buckingham.

Looking even further into the future, Buckingham said “Along with a new world ranking system and the potential for exciting new events to be added into the Olympic Games competition format as early as 2024, and 2028,  the future of artistic swimming is very bright!”

Board Members re-elected

Two CAS Board members were re-elected to serve three-year terms. Returning to the Board are Lindsay Duncan from Quebec, and Sara Hart from Alberta. They are both passionate about seeing the sport continue to grow and thrive. Remaining on the Board are president Florence Klein (Quebec), Jason Herbert (British Columbia), Jessica Rutledge (Ontario), Elise Truscott (Saskatchewan), Dawn Wilson (British Columbia) and Olivia Zawadiuk (British Columbia – Athlete Council Chair).

CEO Jackie Buckingham to retire at end of 2022

As the meeting concluded, President Florence Klein announced that Jackie Buckingham, who has led CAS as its CEO since 2014, will be retiring in December of 2022. In her remarks Klein commended Buckingham’s vision for the organization, which when combined with her determination, truly brought about change in the organization and in the sport. She remarked on her ability to be collaborative, to seek opinions, to share ideas and then to chart the course to bring plans to fruition.

She also said, “While she has accomplished so many things in her time with us, one of Jackie’s many legacies to Canada Artistic Swimming was the impetus to build a welcoming, inclusive, safe and supportive culture throughout the organization.  This work started in earnest with the re-brand of CAS in 2018 and carries on today.”