Victor Davis, CM, swimmer (born 10 February 1964 in Guelph, ON; died 13 November 1989 in Montréal, QC). Olympic and world champion Victor Davis won four medals at the Olympic Summer Games. The immensely popular Davis was known for his flamboyance and his fiercely competitive approach to swimming. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Davis won a gold medal in the 200 m breaststroke and silver medals in the 100 m breaststroke and the 4x100 m medley relay. Davis closed out his competitive career at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as part of Canada's silver-medal-winning 4x100 m medley relay team. The following year, he was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident.
At age 12, Victor Davis became a member of the Guelph Marlins Aquatic Club and started training with coach Clifford Barry. As a teenager, he won the 1981 Canadian title in the 100 m breaststroke against favourite Graham Smith. In 1982, Davis set a world record in the 200 m breaststroke and won silver in the 100 m breaststroke at the world championships in Ecuador. Also that year, he won a gold medal in the 200 m breaststroke and a silver medal in the 100 m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Davis was incapacitated in 1983 by mononucleosis but at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics won a gold medal in the 200 m breaststroke (world record, time 2:13.34) and silver medals in the 100 m breaststroke and 4x100 m medley relay. In 1986, he won gold medals in the 100 m breaststroke and 4x100 m medley relay and a silver in the 200 m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. That year, he also finished first (100 m breaststroke) and second (200 m breaststroke) at the world championships in Spain.
Davis finished his competitive career at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as part of Canada's silver-medal-winning 4x100m medley relay team. After announcing his retirement, Davis made public his plans to form a company dealing with pool safety and placement service for lifeguards. Unfortunately, his goals were never realized. Davis was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident in 1989.
Davis was known for his fiercely competitive approach to swimming and was prone to outward displays of both excitement when victorious and anguish when defeated. He was one of the emotional leaders of Canada's swim team during his career. Alex Baumann, his friend and teammate, remarked in 2008 that “he was the most intense and passionate athlete I knew…Victor was an atypical Canadian. He wasn’t happy with second place because he knew he could beat the other competitors.”
Since 1990, the Victor Davis Memorial Fund has provided bursaries to young Canadian swimmers, to support their continued training and education. Past recipients include Ryan Cochrane, Brent Hayden, Brittany Reimer and Audrey Lacroix.
Honours and Awards
Member, Order of Canada (1984)
Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1985)
Athlete of the Year, Swimming Canada (1982, 1984, 1986)
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1990)
International Swimming Hall of Fame (1994)