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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

PEGGY SELLER

Inducted in 1966

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 23, 1905
Place of Birth: Edinburgh, Scotland
Date of Passing: March 31, 1996
Sport: Synchronized Swimming
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1925-1928

Gale Trophy, National Synchronized Swimming Title

1948-1950

First woman Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association

First woman Secretary of the Federation Internationale De Natation Amateur

Honoured Member PEGGY SELLER
Inspire

Story

Peg Seller, Canada's "First Lady of Synchronized Swimming" was largely responsible for the development and standardization of synchronized swimming, as well as its establishment in both national and international competition. In addition to her pioneering efforts on behalf of the sport, Seller was also a brilliant synchronized swimmer who claimed synchro's top national prize its first four years in existence. Though she did not start taking swimming lessons until she was a teenager, Seller advanced at a quick rate, and swam her first race within six months of entering the water. By 1923, she had won every Royal Life Saving Society Award available. Seller soon became an accomplished diver and a fierce water polo player, but also maintained an interest in the development of new water sports. In the 1920's, synchronized swimming was still in its infancy; ornamental or "fancy" swimming competitions, forerunners to modern synchro, were held in Canada and the United States. In 1923, one such competition, a contest in strokes and tricks, was held at the Montreal YWCA. The following year, Seller and a few of her fellow swimmers drew up the rules for a Provincial Championship in this event. The Quebec tricks and strokes championship was held in 1924 at the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, and Seller was the decisive victor. In 1925, this championship was expanded to the national level and a trophy was donated by Mrs. Frances C. Gale; Seller, a true expert in this new sport, won the Gale Trophy its first four years in existence. With Peg Seller continually at the forefront, ornamental swimming gradually evolved into synchronized swimming over the next 20 years. She guided its development every step of the way by setting rules and standards, publishing instructional guides, and helping the sport to gain recognition at the international level. In 1938, she became the first woman Chairman of synchronized swimming in Quebec, wrote the first synchronized swimming brochure, and established standards for judging the sport. Throughout the 1940's and '50's, Seller served a number of executive positions with swimming organizations in Canada and internationally, including the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association, and the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA). In this capacity, she used her influence to further promote synchro and launch it in the realm of competitive swimming; over the years, she instituted six Canadian Synchronized Swimming Championship events and their trophies and, in 1951, established the Canadian Amateur Synchronized Swimming Association, serving as its first president. In 1952, Seller wrote the first Canadian illustrated brochure for synchronized swimming, as well as the rules governing international competition for FINA. Later that year, she organized a demonstration team and accompanied them to the Olympic Games in Helsinki with hopes that the sport would soon be a part of the Olympic calendar. Seller's demonstration team helped to gain international recognition for the sport and, by 1955, she was successful in establishing it as an official event at the Pan-American Games. In 1957, Seller and fellow synchro pioneer Beulah Gundling authored Aquatic Art, a synchronized swimming and coaching guide; in the early sixties, the two women traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America to promote the sport and solidify standards in international competition. Seller's hard work paid off when, in 1984, synchronized swimming was officially included in the Olympic Games. Her dreams were more than fulfilled when Canadian synchronized swimmers Carolyn Waldo and Michelle Cameron claimed a gold medal in the duet event, while Waldo took a second gold in the solo competition at the Olympics 1988. For her tremendous contribution to the development of this challenging and artistic sport, Seller received an honoured place in the Canadian Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1968, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1988.


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