After eight years at the helm of Canada Artistic Swimming (CAS), Jackie Buckingham is retiring as its CEO in early January 2023.
“Jackie is leaving behind a remarkable legacy at Canada Artistic Swimming,” said Florence Klein, President of the CAS Board. “Her influence on the sport here in Canada, and around the world, will be felt for many years to come.”
Florence reflected on many of the accomplishments that the organization achieved during Jackie’s time with CAS that have had a profound impact on the sport.
“Jackie’s previous experience in sport was invaluable as we sought to improve the competitive landscape for elite athletes, as well as grow our sport at the grassroots level. She was instrumental in the genesis and development of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series (ASWS), our AquaGO! entry level aquatic literacy program, and the revamping of the FINA scoring system now being implemented around the world, among other key projects.”
Working alongside Lisa Schott, now the Chair of the FINA Technical Committee, she provided background event expertise to help see international competitions woven together to create the FINA ASWS, complete with prize money, and series points allowing teams to qualify for a Super Final which was offered for the first time in 2019. Canada’s own FINA World Series event has become an annual favorite stop for international artistic swimming federations.
While she was CEO, the sport discipline changed its name internationally from Synchronized to Artistic Swimming at the FINA Congress in 2017. As a result, under Jackie’s direction, CAS took the opportunity to do a complete rebrand, developing a new Brand Essence – forging unity through diversity – which focused on the sport’s key attributes: powerful, creative, dynamic, inclusive and collaborative – while challenging the sport to think differently. The new wordmark and the logo icon, developed for the national organization and featuring the classic maple leaf with a watery splash effect through it, were then customized for and adopted by each of the provincial associations. This unified branding across Member organizations is still rare in Canadian sport.
Faced with a major challenge in 2021 reflective of the wide-reaching social change movement being embraced by Canadian youth in general, which saw high performance athletes express their discontent with training environments, Jackie steadfastly steered the organization to a comprehensive multi-faceted plan to improve following the “when you know better, do better” commitment. This focused attention on culture change, which had begun in 2016, has become a top priority throughout the organization and has seen the creation of many innovative initiatives under the project banner “Rise Up”.
In its five-year Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rise Up Action plan, CAS has set a course to build a diverse artistic swimming community, that provides a more safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all those involved in the sport. The Rise Up campaign is well on its way to achieving these objectives.
In the last three years, Jackie participated actively in the development of the new FINA scoring system which itself will contribute to significant culture change in the sport as it continues to roll out at domestic and international competitions beginning in 2023.
Jackie is proud of many of the organization’s accomplishments during her tenure. She cites increases in alignment and cooperation among CAS Members, the development and launch of the AquaGO! / ALLEZ à l’eau! program at clubs across the country, watching the senior national team reach its performance goals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo despite a very challenging season, and the adoption of the new scoring system by 98% of voting delegates at the recent FINA Congress among her personal highlights.
The CAS board and the CAS community wish Jackie a happy and healthy retirement, and thank her for her passion, devotion and drive to see artistic swimming grow and thrive not only across Canada, but around the world.