TORONTO, Canada, October 2. NICK Thierry, who served as the official records keeper and statistician for swimming's international governing body, passed away today at the age of 73.
An inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001, Thierry's most lasting contribution to the sport was as statistician, compiling times from meets around the world and ranking them accordingly. Though he was brought on as FINA's official statistician in 1989, he had been laboriously collecting times for at least 20 years before that.
One of the lasting impacts of Thierry's rankings is the FINA points system, which assigns a point value to each swim, with 1,000 points being the brass ring for every swimmer around the world. FINA points are used in many cases today to decide the top swimmer at international meets.
Thierry was one of the original writers for Swimming World Magazine at the request of Bob Kiphuth in 1958, continuing to work with the magazine as writer and international editor through 1973. The following year, he started Swimming Canada, a monthly magazine that allowed Thierry to have an outlet for his work collecting a massive collection of performances around the world. Shortly after its founding, the magazine became known as SwimNews, and though its focus remained largely on Canadian swimming, the magazine found a worldwide following, publishing its 300th edition in April 2008.
Before he gained notoriety for his work as a statistician, Thierry was a renowned coach in Canada, placing swimmers on the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic teams. He also served on various swimming board of directors panels in Canada from 1961 to 1985.
Thierry was born in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 2, 1938, and moved to Havana with his family when he was 10. He swam competitively as a child, and continued to do so while studying architecture at the University of Toronto. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1964, spending his time working as an architect and assistant swim coach for four years before becoming a full-time coach in 1968.
In 2007, Thierry was honored with the Media Award at the American Swimming Coaches Association's clinic. Thierry gave an interview to Swimming World, upon receipt of the honor. Watch the interview in the video player below:
Special thanks to the International Swimming Hall of Fame for contributing to this article.