Pierre Lafontaine Leaving Swimming Canada, Organization Resetting Staff

OTTAWA, Canada, January 31. PIERRE Lafontaine is stepping down as the CEO and National Team Director of Swimming Canada, a move has now been made official. He will be taking over as the CEO of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) starting March 1, a change which will be announced via webcast later today.

It was inaccurately reported by multiple sources today that Lafontaine was heading to the Canadian Institute for Sport – wrong CIS. Additionally, multiple sources inaccurately reported that James Hood would be the interim CEO with Swimming Canada.

Lafontaine has become a giant in the sport, handling multiple roles within Swimming Canada and in a successful manner, since becoming the CEO and National Team Director in 2005. He presided over two separate Olympic Games in that time period, with Canada continuing to move up the ladder in terms of world-record swims, international medals, and overall stature within the sport. That's saying a lot, considering two countries in Australia and Great Britain were so concerned with their latest performances in London that they both called for in-depth internal reviews of their systems.

Lafontaine has come a long way in his illustrious career, that spans back to his time as an assistant coach at the Point-Claire Swim Club from 1976-81. Along his travels, he spend time in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport, Phoenix at the Phoenix Swim Club, Atlanta at the Dynamo Swim Club, Montreal at CAMO, and in Calgary as the University of Calgary. Along each stop, he developed the administrative and coaching knowledge to become a big asset in the Canadian Institute of Sport movement.

Swimming Canada made the decision for Director of Swimming Operations Ken Radford to step into the CEO position on an interim basis, while Great Britain's John Atkinson will be crossing the pond to become the High Performance Director at Swimming Canada. The Atkinson hire has been made public in an announcement today by Swimming Canada, who is still ironically quoting Lafontaine as the CEO.

“He has experience around the world and is well-respected by many Canadian coaches who have worked alongside him at the international level or attended his clinics in Canada,” added Swimming Canada CEO Pierre Lafontaine.

Atkinson moves over from British Swimming, where he was most recently the National Performance Director of Great Britain's Paralympic swimming movement. In that role, which began in 2010, Atkinson led his team to 39 medals at the 2012 London Paralympics. Previously in his time with British Swimming, that commenced in 2001, he worked with Bill Sweetenham and Michael Scott as Director of the World Class Programs in Great Britain.

Interestingly enough, both Sweetenham and Scott are in the news of late with Sweetenham helping out New Zealand in a time of need, and Scott being wooed by Swimming Australia.

Swimming Canada confirmed the move with an announcement today:
OTTAWA — Swimming Canada President David de Vlieger announced today that CEO Pierre Lafontaine will be leaving the organization to take on new challenges as CEO of Canadian Interuniversity Sport effective March 1, 2013.

“The swimming community is very grateful to Pierre Lafontaine for his accomplishments as CEO and National Coach since 2005 and we wish him well in his new role,” said de Vlieger.

“Lafontaine's passion, energy and determination in guiding Swimming Canada during the past eight years has positioned Canada as a leading swimming nation. We have accomplished many great things under Pierre's leadership, and we will continue to make our mark on the international stage.”

Swimming Canada's focus is to build on the momentum and successes the organization has gained while continuing to pursue the goals it has set in its “Vision 2020” strategic plan.

A search for a new CEO has already commenced and Swimming Canada's Board of Directors is aiming to have the successful candidate in place by Sept. 1, 2013.

In the interim, Ken Radford will oversee the leadership of Swimming Canada operations and work closely with the Board of Directors and the management team to ensure a smooth transition.

Radford, Swimming Canada's director of swimming operations, has been with the organization for nearly 15 years. He was also appointed Interim CEO in early 2000.

As Lafontaine announces his decision to move on from his leadership role at Swimming Canada, he reflects on the growth of the sport in Canada.

“While I'm excited to take on new challenges, I'm feeling truly proud of being part of the immense progress of Canadian swimming in the past decade,” said Lafontaine.

“Our country has seen an incredible shift forward in the pool. Our swimmers are now household names, which is a testament to their commitment to excellence and guidance from their coaches. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to work with incredible colleagues who have shared my passion for the sport, and with the Swimming Canada Board of Directors for their continued support and belief in our vision.”

During his tenure as CEO and national coach, Lafontaine led the organization to consistent podium performances at major international games including three swimming medals at the recent Olympics and 16 at Paralympics, as well as several world record performances.

His ongoing commitments to the development of a sustainable sport system resulted in nearly doubling its membership and budget. The junior program has positioned itself as second in the world and Canadian swimmers have re-written 68 per cent of the record books.

Lafontaine also helped build a stronger corporate brand through innovative media strategies, including a six-day live broadcast of the Swimming Canada Olympic and Paralympic Trials.

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