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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

GUS RYDER

Inducted in 1963

Member Details

Date of Birth: January 11, 1899
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Date of Passing: May 23, 1991
Sport: Swimming
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1930

Founded Lakeshore Swimming Club

1955

Named Canada's man of the year

1975

Named to the Order of Canada

Honoured Member GUS RYDER
Inspire

Story

Gus Ryder was known as an innovative swimming coach whose athletes achieved national and international success as marathon swimmers. But, he would probably want to be equally remembered for sharing his love of this sport with thousands of children with physical disabilities. Ryder was born in Toronto and was an accomplished athlete as a young man. He was a defenseman for the Aura Lee junior hockey team, played football for the Toronto Argonauts intermediate team, rowed for the Argonaut club, represented Canada in international handball matches - a sport that he continued to play into his eighties - and also swam in a number of Toronto's across-the-bay long distance races. It was his love of the water, as well as his respect for it, that led him to his avocation. In 1917, while playing hockey on Grenadier Pond in Toronto's High Park, he rescued two of his fellow players who had fallen through the ice before himself being trapped under the ice. He later recalled that this was the moment that he decided to dedicate himself to teaching swimming and lifesaving. Although he was a customs' broker by profession, Ryder dedicated much of his life to coaching swimming. In 1930, he founded the New Toronto Swim Club in the small community of the same name on the lakeshore west of Toronto. By the end of the first summer, the club had 700 members. The club soon became known as Lakeshore Swim Club. It operated at New Toronto Beach in the summer and used Toronto's West End YMCA and Humberside Collegiate Pools in the summer. It was not until 1952, when the New Toronto War Memorial pool was opened, that the club had a permanent home. (This pool, and Toronto's Sunnyside pool, are now both named in Ryder's honour.) The Ryder's swimmers competed in national lifesaving competitions and twice won the Royal Life Saving Award. Ryder himself was credited with 47 lifesaving rescues. Ryder was perhaps best known as the coach of some of Canada's greatest long-distance swimmers. Marathon swimming had a prominent place in the national sporting consciousness in the 1950s when swimmers such as Marilyn Bell became household names. Ryder's hand in coaching some of these remarkable athletes, including the innovative techniques he brought to long-distance swimming, soon made him almost as well known. Cliff Lumsdon, another Canada's Sports Hall of Fame inductee, started at the Lakeshore Swim Club at age six and went on to capture the world marathon swimming championship five times. Ryder also coached Bell, who rose to national prominence in 1954 when she became first person to swim across Lake Ontario. Ryder was perhaps less well-known for, but equally proud of, his work training children with physical disabilities. Over 56 years, he estimated that some 200,000 kids received swimming instruction at the Lakeshore Swim Club, those with physical disabilities did so at no cost and were given lifetime memberships in the club. Primarily for his work with children, Ryder was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1975.


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