George F. Gate

George F. Gate, SWIMMING coach (b at Carlisle, England 11 Dec 1924). In 1942 this young local swimming champion joined the British Royal Navy where he spent his free time reading about swimming techniques. Five years later, George F. Gate immigrated to Canada and found a job as a logger on Vancouver Island. Sent to the City of Vancouver for the treatment of injuries to his hand and head, he took advantage of his stay on the mainland to swim at Crystal Pool, the only indoor swimming pool in the area. At that time, he met Percy Norman, coach of the Vancouver Amateur Swim Club, who had an interest in him as both a swimmer and an assistant. Not long afterwards, in the early 1950s while working as a department store clerk, Gate became the manager of the Ocean Falls pool.

There, he developed and applied various training techniques that he integrated with running, weight training and other physical activities. These new swimming techniques combined with strict training brought his athletes to the highest levels of achievement. Consequently, by the time he left the aquatic centre at Ocean Falls in 1964, more than half the swimmers on the Canadian national team were being trained under his supervision. Among them were Ralph Hutton and Richard Pound, who would be a finalist in the 100-metre free style at the Rome OLYMPICS and a medal winner at several other international games.

In 1964, Gate moved to Montréal, where he became the coach and aquatics director at the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. Two years later he settled permanently in Pointe-Claire, where he headed the aquatics centre, which had recently been furnished with a new 50-metre swimming pool. His dual functions as club director and swimming coach gave better pool access to his elite athletes, and under his tutelage, many excelled in swimming at the highest levels.

During Gate's career, 33 of his athletes swam internationally. A coach emeritus, he managed the Canadian swimming team at the 1954 COMMONWEALTH GAMES, the 1963 Pan-American Games, the Mexico Olympics in 1968, the 1973 World Championships, and the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989. His diving and swimming programs facilitated the emergence of fourteen national coaches. Four of these became Olympic team coaches: the twins Dave and Tom Johnson, Clifford Barry (coach of Victor Davis), and Don Webb, diving coach.

For nearly half a century, Gate's philosophy of always aiming for excellence has distinguished his coaches and swimmers, and his methods have significantly influenced Canadian swimming.

George F. Gate was inducted into the CANADIAN SPORTS HALL OF FAME in 1983, into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1986, and three years later into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 1992, he entered the TEMPLE DE LA RENOMMÉE DES SPORTS DU QUÉBEC. In 2008, Swimming Canada honoured him as a coach in their Circle of Excellence, and in 2010 he was named to the ORDER OF CANADA.