Skate Canada CEO Dan Thompson is giving back to a sport – and a community – that has given him so much.
With the 2015 Pan Am Games currently in full swing in Toronto and the surrounding GTA, Thompson, a former Olympic swimmer himself, is volunteering at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatic Centre, the Games’ official swimming venue.
Allan Gordon, a member of the Skate Canada Communications team, is also giving his time as a volunteer during the Games.
Like skating, swimming is in Thompson’s blood, even to this day.
In fact, the names of his two dogs? Splash and Ripple.
“There should always be a passion in your life, and you should embrace that passion and always give more than you take,” Thompson says. “Swimming has been an integral part of my life, and this is my way of saying thank you and giving something back.”
“It’s been a great time so far.”
For Thompson, the swimming venue is a perfect fit.
Thompson, a member of the Toronto 2015 sports program and legacy committee, was a double silver medallist at the 1979 Pan Am Games (100 m butterfly, 400 m men’s relay) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
These days, Thompson is at the helm of the Skate Canada ship, but still manages to find time to experience the joy of swimming. Not unlike the joy of skating – just water at a different temperature.
Last summer, Thompson claimed gold in Montreal in both the 50 and 100 metre butterfly events at the FINA World Masters Championships. He was also a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning 200-metre medley relay.
During the Pan Am swimming events, Thompson, who sits on the UANA technical swimming committee, works behind the scenes in the “ready room” as the athletes prepare to compete. Those moments are a throwback to his competitive days, as Thompson is with the athletes in their final moments before they step into the pool area. The surroundings allow a unique opportunity to watch world-class athletes attempt to find their focus and get into their zone.
These Games have also afforded Thompson a chance to get an up-close look at how other sports organizations operate.
“Learning comes from anywhere, and this has been an educational experience, as well,” Thompson adds. “You get a chance to get out and see how various organizations run their sports and organize their events. There are great ideas all around, and maybe I can even take one or two back to Skate Canada.”
It’s about the only thing Thompson will take this week.
Everything else is about giving back.