Deryk Snelling, legendary Canadian swimming coach, has died at age 87. His daughter announced his death on his Facebook page on Wednesday.



 Deryk Snelling with swimmer Mark Tewksbury


Deryk Snelling, legendary Canadian swimming coach, has died at age 87. His daughter announced his death on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

“This is Leslie Snelling Scabar. I just wanted to let my dad’s Facebook community know that he recently passed away at home from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He lived a long, healthy and fulfilling life until the very end. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and a Celebration of Life will follow when Covid restrictions are lifted,” she wrote.

Former Canada Swimming CEO Pierre LaFontaine shared the message from Scabar, adding one of his own.

“I’ve been blessed to have worked with him, he was my best Man, Mentor, help shape Canadian swimming but also helped create world people and great competitors. Thank you for your passion!” Pierre LaFontaine wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s also time that we rekindle the Canadian Swimming Hall of Fame. We lost some great people/coaches in the last few years that need to be remembered, celebrated for the next generation of Coaches – National Coaching week in Canada.”

Deryk Snelling was honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1993. More from the ISHOF files:


1993 Honor Coach

Born in Darwin, England, Deryk Snelling took his beginning as a British national swimmer and English champion to develop into one of swimming’s most successful coaches.

From 1962 at the Southampton Swimming Club in England to the current University of Calgary Swim Club in Canada, Deryk has placed 57 swimmers on Olympic teams, nineteen of them earning Olympic medals.  Fifty of his swimmers have swum on World Championship teams, ten earning medals, and 53 swimmers winning 65 Commonwealth Games medals.  His swimmers have set six world records and 72 of his teams have won Canadian National Team Championship titles with 417 individual and relay national titles going to his swimmers.

Snelling is known as the individual medley coach and his book, All About Individual Medley, stresses the importance of training all four swimming strokes.  His world-ranked swimmers fill all four stroke events.  Leslie Cliff won the 1972 Olympic silver medal in the 400-meter I.M., Bruce Robertson took the 1972 butterfly silver medal behind Mark Spitz and, 20 years later, Mark Tewksbury won the gold medal in yet another stroke at the 1992 Olympic Games, winning the 100-meter backstroke. Along with Mark, Snelling also coached backstroke world record holder Wendy Cooke.

Since 1970, Snelling has been the Canadian Olympic coach six times, serving as head coach at four of those Games.  He has been coach of five Commonwealth teams and one World Championship team.

He has encouraged many of his swimmers to take up coaching.  Among his proudest, his former swimmer David Haller, named British Olympic Coach and British Coach-of-the-Year.

During Snelling’s tenure at the Canadian Dolphin Swim Club, Etobicoke Swim Club, the Calgary Swim Club and the University of Calgary Swim Club, Deryk has been the Canadian Swim-Coach-of-the-Year four times, C.I.A.U.–University Coach-of-the-Year five times and is a recipient of the prestigious Order of Canada Award.

In addition to his coaching duties, he has been a featured guest at numerous clinics and symposiums across the world.  Dery Snelling’s dual British and Canadian citizenship has produced dual successes in his swimmers–great athletes and great citizens.

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