In yearly 1967 and 1968, Canadian champion swimmers came to South Africa to compete in galas across the country, at nationals, and in Test matches against the Springboks - particularly Karen Muir and Ann Fairlie. More Canadians - former champions - visited in 1982, to compete in Test matches. The best these was Elaine Tanner - known as "Mighty Moise", and the best Canadian swimmer of all time. Tanner was there when Karen Muir broke her first world record in 1965:
“It sounded like a stampede up there,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘Who would break a world record in an age-group event? Oh my god, who is this girl?’ ”
By the time she was 15, the Karen Muir stood 5 foot 7 with a physique so lean she was called Bamboo. Her Canadian rival, nicknamed Mighty Mouse, stood barely five feet tall.
“We looked like Mutt and Jeff together,” Ms. Tanner said recently.
She met Karen Muir in August 1966 when the Springboks swam in her hometown of Vancouver. Tanner and Muir ended in a dead heat for the 220 yards IM - setting a joint new World record. The race featured the oddity of (Canadian) judges determining Ms. Tanner had finished first, while timers recorded Ms. Muir touching the wall one-10th of a second faster. Under international rules, the record was shared, based on average times.
In 1967 Elaine Tanner, who was to win the silver medal for both backstroke events at the 1968 Mexico City Games, joined American Cathy Ferguson and Kiki Caron of France, in trying to beat Karen Muir in her own back yard. Ferguson had won gold at the Tokoyo Games, with Caron in second place - but by 1967 Karen Muir held the world records, if not the medals.
In 1967 Tanner was joined by Marion Lay, Jane Huges and Ron Jacks. Click here to see the results from 1967 nationals, and in 1968 it was Tanner, Marion Lay, Jean Warren and Angela Coughlan who came to compete at nationals in Bloemfontein.
Click here to see Elaine Tanner's website.
Canadian Olympic team that won Bronze in 1968 - Marilyn Corson, Angela Coughlan, Marion Lay and Elaine Tanner - in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Angela Coughlan (56) Canadian champion swimmer who won a bronze medal as a member of the national 4x100-meter freestyle swimming team at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. Coughlan also won a gold medal, three silver medals, and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 in Scotland. She died of multiple myeloma in Ottawa, Canada on June 14, 2009.
Ron Jacks - swimmer and coach