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Thierry, Nicholas Joseph
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Nicholas Joseph Thierry was born on December 2, 1938 in Budapest, Hungary. At the age of 8, Thierry moved with his family to Havana, Cuba, where he began to swim competitively. After high school, Nick moved to Canada, where he attended the University of Toronto and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture in 1964, while swimming competitively for the University. In 1961, in addition to his own competitive swimming, Thierry began coaching student swimmers from the University of Toronto as well as athletes from local swim clubs. Thierry served as an assistant coach at the University of Toronto for 21 years, while also playing a large role in the selection of swimmers for Canadian Olympic teams in 1964, 1968 and 1972, and serving as the head coach of the Canadian swim team for the 1970 Commonwealth Games. During his coaching career, Thierry oversaw a number of high-profile and successful swimmers including Angela Coughlan, Jim Shaw, Karen Le Gresley, Gaye Stratten, and Judy Garay.
Thierry’s coaching style was heavily influenced by International Swimming Hall of Fame coaches Stefan Hunyadfi, Peter Daland and Howard Firby, the later with which Thierry became close friends, corresponding regularly and travelling to numerous international competitions together.
Thierry also held several administrative positions for various Canadian swimming associations. He was the chairman and secretary for the Canadian Swimming Coaches Association (CSCA), and served on the Board of Directors for Swim Ontario and Swim Canada.
While Thierry was coaching he discovered the need to start tracking and compiling swimming statistics. To help facilitate the spread of swimmer’s statistical information, Thierry organized Swim Canada, a monthly publication that was later renamed Swim News. Officially started in 1974, Swim News carries both Canadian and international news, statistics, athlete and coach profiles, meet results, and articles on all aspects of competitive swimming. Thierry served as publisher, editor and writer for Swim News from 1974 to 2012. To make the publication as complete and thorough as possible, Thierry attempted to locate and record every available major swim meet worldwide, leading to the formation of the International Swimming Statisticians Association (ISSA) in 1986. Thierry’s travels saw him attend almost every type of swimming event in the world, from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) meets, to the World Cup of Swimming and the Summer Olympic Games. While Thierry did much of the work himself for Swim News, he eventually realized the magazine needed a larger presence in the swimming community, employing photographer and friend Marco Chiesa to aid in Swim News’ online existence.
The statistics compiled and published in Swim News were supplemented by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) world rankings to give coaches, athletes, journalists and fans the ability to track all aspects of a swimmer’s career, making Swim News an invaluable resource for the swimming community. Early on, Thierry would often compile swim records and statistics manually, striving to ensure the quality and accuracy of the information published in Swim News. When computer software programs and electronic data transmission became available, Thierry began developing a database containing 40 years of swim rankings and statistics to ensure the spread of information across the sport.
While his work on swim rankings, records, results, and athlete biographies is his primary legacy, Thierry also had several interests outside of the swimming world; he was passionate about classical music and classical composers, and fine dining and the culinary arts took up much of his spare time away from the pool.
Nick Thierry passed away on October 2, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario at the age of 73.
Much of Thierry’s biographical information has been taken from an obituary appearing on the website ‘Swim Vortex.com’ shortly after his death. http://www.swimvortex.com/farewell-to-the-father-of-world-rankings/