Cecil Colwin, Author, Coach, Scientist, Researcher and Historian
2002 Paragon Award / Competitive Swimming
A competitive swim coach since 1945 Cecil Colwin has long been known for his work on the technical aspects and history of swimming. Internationally he is known as a coach, stroke technician, administrator, educator, lecturer, researcher, author, cartoonist and illustrator. He is the only person to coach and serve on three continents – Africa, Australia and North America. Born in Port Elizabeth, Cape Province, Colwin became South Africa’s first full-time swimming coach and for 26 years, placed swimmers on every Olympic team until which time South Africa was banned from Olympic competition. His 1956 squad, with the exception of one swimmer, comprised the entire Olympic team. In 1952, he originated the age group swimming program of South Africa and before he moved to Australia in 1971, his swimmer had broken four world records and earned eight positions on Olympic teams. During his tenure in Australia, Colwin’s swimmers won nineteen state championships and three national championships. In 1973, after a worldwide search, he was appointed National Technical Director of Canada, during which time he implemented the early stages of Canada’s successful “TAG” (Top Age Group) talent identification program for discovering aspiring young swimmers. He edited the “Level II” and “Level III” Canadian Certification Manuals and has served on almost every Canadian organizational committee. Colwin developed a six-point plan for Canadian swimming for the 1976 Montreal Olympics where the Canadian percentage of finalists improved 15.4 % from 5% the previous three Olympic Games (USA 18%).
Colwin was the first researcher to conduct extensive studies into the fluid dynamics of swimming, based on the vortex flow in the water. He has written over 100 articles and papers for a variety of periodicals and is the author of Cecil Colwin on Swimming (1969) and Introduction to Swimming Coaching (1977), Canada’s official Level I coaching manual which has been printed every year since 1977 in English, French and German.
In 1991, his major work, Swimming Into The 21st Century” was published with over 300 of Cecil’s own illustrations. In February of 2002, his latest book “Breakthrough Swimming” was released by Human Kinetics. Over the years, he has delivered over 200 lectures and clinics. He contributes a regular column in Swim News.
Cecil Colwin was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1993.