For some, these activities can lead down Olympic paths
Andrew Willows, from the Pointe Claire Canoe Club, will be part of Canada's kayak team.
From Anne Montminy in diving to Chantal Léger in sailing, Olympic athletes who grew up or still live in the West Island all began their careers in the same manner.
Each began as a novice, but thanks to hard work, good coaching and great facilities, went on to excel as human beings while representing their country at national and international competitions.
Water sports such as competitive and synchronized swimming, diving, canoeing, kayaking, rowing and water polo are extremely popular in the West Island, and have produced local athletes who have not only parlayed their talents into athletic scholarships at United States universities, but have gone on to compete at Olympic competitions.
August in Beijing will be no exception. Canadian swimmers wearing their West Island colours proudly on their chests will include Beaconsfield resident Stephanie Horner, who began swimming outdoors at the Beaconsfield-based Beaurepaire Pool before moving indoors with the Beaconsfield Bluefins, and Tobias Oriwol, who spent many years under the guidance of the Pointe Claire Swim Club. From the Pointe Claire Canoe Club, Pointe Claire resident Tom Hall will compete in the C-1, 1,000-metre event, while Andrew Willows will be part of the kayak team, as will Dorval resident Emilie Fournel of the Lachine Rowing Club. Tracy Little, who learned her trade with the Dollard des Ormeaux Synchronized Swimming Club, will compete in synchronized swimming, while Nathaniel Miller, who spent many years training with the Dollard des Ormeaux Water Polo Club, will be part of – and one of the leaders of -- the Canadian men’s water polo team.
Reasons for West Islanders excelling in water sports are simple. In swimming, for example, the Association of Lakeshore Pools (ALPS) and North Shore Aquatic Association (NAA) host 30 outdoor pools spread all around the West Island. Each offers youngsters the chance to partake in competitive swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming. Individuals then have the option to go on to compete indoors during the winter at wonderfully equipped aquatic facilities in Dollard des Ormeaux, Beaconsfield, and Pointe Claire.
Finally, there is the coaching. Pointe Claire Diving Club head coach Yi Hua Li is an excellent example. Li not only coached Montminy to Olympic silver and bronze, but has also reached the point in her career where elite athletes such as Myriam Boileau now seek her guidance.