For 47 years, Nick Thierry has been writing about swimming. The days
when he is not writing, he is accumulating all the statistics of swims around
the world, to present to international media sources, in the quest to keep up
with the statistics of the sport.
As a writer for Al Schoenfield's Swimming World Magazine, Nick saw the
need for good communication in the sport, and the value of a swimming magazine
to accomplish that goal. Throughout his career in swimming he never
wavered from that thought.
Born in Hungary on December 2, 1938, Nick spent his first eight years growing
up in Budapest. In 1948 his family moved to Havana, Cuba, where his father
had been transferred. He worked for Wagon-Lits, the international sleeping
car company. Nick swam competitively for three years while in Havana and
another three years in Toronto, Canada while studying at the University of
Toronto, obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1964. For the next
four years he worked in an architect's office.
Nick's love for being around the swimming pool was paramount. In 1961,
at the University of Toronto, he served as assistant swimming coach. For
the next 21 years, he coached at Toronto and surrounding teams, placing swimmers
on the Canadian Olympic teams of 1963, 1968 and 1972. He was Canadian head
coach of two international tours as well as for the 1970 Commonwealth Games team
which competed in Edinburgh, Scotland. His swimmer Angela Coughlan won the
100m freestyle gold medal. Two years earlier she had won the bronze medal
on the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Nick
coached 1977 Canadian 100m breaststroke National Champion Judy Garay, daughter
of Hall of Famer Valerie Gyenge (HUN), 1952 Olympic 400m freestyle champion.
From 1961 to 1985, Nick served in administrative capacities on Swim Ontario's
Board of Directors, the Canadian Swimming Coaches Association (chairman,
secretary) and the Swim Canada National Board of Directors.
During his coaching career Nick first saw the need to keep swimming
statistics. "It was a very effective training tool for my swimmers," said
Thierry. "The need to know what was going on worldwide was growing in the
sport." Thus, he organized the formation of Swim Canada, Canada's
monthly magazine publication. Now known as SwimNews, it has a
circulation of 4,000 copies per month with over 312 editions since 1974.
It is filled with all the local, regional and national news of Canada as well as
stories on international events and athletes. Nick was publisher, editor
and writer. Perhaps his most favorite article was the January 1988 article
"Never a Wasted Stroke," announcing world record holder and Olympic
champion Alex Baumann's retirement. His best stroke technique description
was "Victor Davis on Breaststroke" published in 1989, just four months
before Victor's tragic death. As one of the world's leading publications, SwimNews not only contains human interest stories but also times and
rankings of swimmers on a national and international level. He prints
Canada's Top Age Group (TAG) Times every month as well as Tiny Olympic
Prospects (TOP) for little kids. FINA's world rankings are read by the
older kids and their coaches.
It was Nick's quest to locate and print every available meet and race time
that lead to the formation of the International Swimming Statisticians
Association (ISSA) in 1986 at the Madrid World Championships. Beginning in
1992, statistics in SwimNews were supplemented by printing monthly FINA
world rankings and yearly short and long course FINA annuals. Originally,
record keeping was done manually with Nick personally hand typing each line of
statistics. With the introduction of the fax machine, records and dates
could instantly be transmitted and received for publication. Then with the
PC and computer software programs, data became instantly transmitted and
printable on demand. Where it used to take two and one-half weeks to
prepare an issue of SwimNews, now it would take two days.
At major championships (World and European) Nick has provided extended start
lists on the finalists in each event for broadcast and print media to use.
These include biographical facts on each finalist, chronological record list,
all time ranking, etc. Since 1989, Nick has worked with FINA Press
Commission Chairman Camillo Cametti, traveling extensively to world events.
The swimming community owes Nick a debt of gratitude. Sorting through
the seemingly endless volumes of numbers and times, Nick makes order out of
chaos and assures every swimmer that his or her time will be accurately placed
in the pecking order of performances. Nick's no-nonsense approach to his
work, his coolness under pressure and his unique style and perseverance, in a
very unassuming way, have contributed to his success as publisher/editor of SwimNews and as swimming's top record keeper. Nick was inducted into
the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001 as Honor Contributor for his
contribution to the sport.