#30MostSwimfluential: Nick Thierry

Nick Thierry
Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Who is Nick Thierry?

  • Guardian and recorder of rankings, times, and swimming statistics over a 40-year span
  • Began as writer for Al Schoenfield’s new Swimming World Magazine in 1958
  • Organized formation of SwimCanada, Canada’s monthly magazine
  • Founder and publisher of SwimNews Magazine and swimnews.com
  • Assistant coach in 1961 at University of Toronto
  • Coached at Toronto and surrounding teams for next 21 years
  • Placed swimmers on the Canadian Olympic teams of 1964, 1968 and 1972
  • Canadian head coach of two international tours as well as for the 1970 Commonwealth Games team
  • 1961-1985, served on Swim Ontario’s Board of Directors, the Canadian Swimming Coaches Association (chairman, secretary) and the Swim Canada National Board of Directors
  • Formed the International Swimming Statisticians Association (ISSA) in 1986 at the Madrid World Championships
  • At major championships (World and European), provided extended start lists on the finalists in each event for broadcast and print media to use.
  • 2001 inductee into International Swimming Hall of Fame as Honor Contributor
  • 2005 recipient of the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Al Schoenfield Media Award
  • Passed away in October 2012

How did he influence the swimming community?

Perhaps the most unsung influence of this list of 30 is Nick Thierry. The records and statistics swimmers, coaches, journalists, sports scientists, and administrators have valued and been motivated by for the last four decades are largely thanks to Thierry. The swim coach began keeping records of times and comparing them because he saw it as “a very effective training tool” for his swimmers. Thierry was known for his no-nonsense approach and knew how to extract the important numbers from a cluttered page. He worked tirelessly to produce lists like Thorpe’s 30 best times in the 200m free in comparison to Phelps’ 30 best swims, the national record progressions of every nation in the world, and the finals, semis and heat results of every major competition since the 1972 Munich Games. His talent was finding order in chaos and his quest was to guard these numbers and share accurate, interesting facts with the swimming world. FINA leaned heavily on Thierry for their world rankings. Thierry always preferred quality over quantity and would not have liked a drawn-out thank you for his services. But for his endless work and care for passing on his gifts to young writers, Thierry deserves endless thanks.

“It’s the old saying: ‘Decisions will be made, unencumbered by thought.’ I worry about the tendency of humans to make things ever more complicated rather than simpler.”– Nick Thierry

*USA Swimming and Speedo invited the swimming community to help celebrate their 30 years of partnership by voting for the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming Over the Past 30 Years.” Votes were cast through social media with the hashtag #30MostSwimfluential and the final vote came from a panel of 10 judges selected by USA Swimming and Speedo. All 30 nominees have had a powerful impact on the swimming community. Many are recognizable names, but some have remained unsung heroes of the sport. Swimming World will profile each swimfluential person over the course of the week.