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Hall of Famers

Hall of Famer


Inducted in 2008

Member Details

Date of Birth: September 24, 1961
Place of Birth: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sport: Swimming
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights


Bronze Medal, 100m backstroke; Bronze Medal 200m backstroke, Montreal Summer Olympic Games


Silver Medals in 200m individual medley, and 4x100m medley relay; Bronze Medals in 100m butterfly, 200m. butterfly, 400m individual medley, Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico


Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame



Numbers never tell it all. They are cold and unfeeling, with no means to measure heart, no way to factor in the indomitable spirit and bubbling laughter of a 13-year-old kid with a country on her shoulders, living in the moment and having the time of her life. In Cali, Colombia in 1975, Nancy Garapick was beyond numbers. She was simply the best story of the World Aquatic Games. It had all happened so quickly. In four months she'd climbed from 38th in the world in the 200-metre backstroke to the world-record holder. Now she was in Cali, hearing every day that she was her country's only hope against the might of the East German swim colossus. Poised for the start of the 100-metre backstroke final, the 113-pounder from Halifax looked like a dingy between destroyers. On her right in lane five, Ulrike Richter, world champion at 100 metres. On her left in lane three, Birgit Treiber, who had wrestled back the world 200-metre record. The tall, muscular twin towers of East Germany. They finished that way - Richter, Treiber and Garapick. Gold, silver and bronze. Asked how would she fare against the two East Germans over 200 metres - she said calmly that she'd never been a sprinter so she should do okay. "I'm going to try my darndest, that's all." On the morning of the 200 final, I asked her how she felt, a dumb big-person question. For a minute there was no answer. Then: "Sometimes," she said slowly, "I feel like the whole country is waiting for me to win. And what if I don't?..." That night, Nancy Garapick broke the world 200-metre backstroke record. There was only one problem: Birgit Treiber broke it better, inching almost imperceptibly ahead in the last few strokes. Treiber 2:15.46. Garapick 2:16.09. Richter 2:18.76. A snap-of-the-fingers difference - 63/100ths of a second - between gold and silver. The world knew now the kid from Halifax was no flash-in-the-pan. The Montreal Olympics were a year down the road. She'd meet the East Germans again, and come away as Canada's only double medalist with bronze in the two backstroke events. One final scene that night in Cali: As the press conference ended, suddenly a little girl again, she ran to coach Nigel Kemp, nervous reaction finally settling in as she brushed away a tear. 'I'm sorry,' she whispered. ' I tried'  He scooped her into a bear-hug. 'Sunshine', he said, 'you did just fine.' (Written by Jim Taylor. Former sports columnist Jim Taylor is the author of twelve books on outstanding Canadian Athletes, the latest a memoir, Hello Sweetheart? Gimmie Rewrite!)