“Sports at RMC in the post-war era” #7: Tennis, swimming
Growing the Sports Program, Smaller-teams, TENNIS, SWIMMING
By 3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, Cadet Wing Sports Officer, RMC 1953-54
Business enterprises focus on their core businesses and sometimes grow their enterprises by finding other areas of business activity to make use of their other “in-house” capabilities and skills. RMC did likewise in the early post-war era by adding smaller-team sports in an effort to fulfill the wants and needs of many cadets with athletic skills in a number of sports. The strategy included participating in more sports at the intercollegiate level, when feasible, in order to restore and enhance RMC’s status as a force in intercollegiate sports.
Some sports made it to Intercollegiate, some did not. In his very fine book “CANADA’S RMC – A History of the Royal Military College”, Dr. Preston noted that “the 1968 college competes in twenty-two intercollegiate sports compared to only ten before the war”. The athleticism, specific skills, and fitness of the College’s cadets enabled RMC to be very competitive despite having much lower enrollment than the colleges in the leagues in which its teams competed.
Cricket, football, and tennis have a very long history at RMC. Post-war, 2935 Dave McPherson (RMC’53) another superb multi-sport athlete, was singularly most responsible for the successful return of tennis to the College. After being Tennis Champion at T.C.S. in Toronto, Dave came to R.M.C. in 1948 “and promptly won the Tennis Championship and he played Intercollegiate soccer every year.” He would consistently lead the RMC Tennis Team in intercollegiate competition.
In 1950 the team, coached by Mr. Fryer, played in a round-robin tournament at Loyola College in Montreal in which MacDonald College and Sir George Williams also competed. The team of Dave McPherson, 2837 Peter Harley, 2852 “Tubes” Reiffenstein, and 2937 Johnny Keane (all RMC’52) “put on a good show in Montreal”.
In 1951 the team competed at RMC in an Ottawa-St. Lawrence Conference Intermediate Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament that included Queen’s, Sir George Williams, and Loyola University. The team consisted of Dave McPherson, Johnny Keane, 3162 Pierre Pinsonnault and 3129 Bob Gross (both of whom were RR’49/RMC’53). The weather was “cold and windy” and “the Sunday play was rained out”. Queen’s won the tournament and “the RMC team placed second comfortably ahead of Loyola and Sir George Williams”.
In 1952 the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Conference Intermediate Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament held at MacDonald College in Montreal grew to include six teams: Queen’s, Carleton, Loyola, Sir George Williams, MacDonald College and RMC. Dave McPherson, Pierre Pinsonnault, and Bob Gross were joined by 3298 Ian MacDonnell (RR’52/RMC’54) and 3672 Carter Powis (RMC’56). “All five players did well and their third place standing in the final results was a very creditable showing.”
In 1953 playing once again in the Ottawa – St. Lawrence Conference Intermediate Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament, held at RMC, the College team “managed to finish a very respectable second among the five teams entered” (Carleton, Loyola, Sir George Williams, RMC and, this time, CMR). Graduation had its impact so this year Ian MacDonnell was the only team member to return from last year. Joining the team were 3448 Andy Henning (RMC’56), 3545 Mac Ramsay (RMC’56), 3896 NC Hopper (RMC’57), and 3334 Dave Wightman (RR’52/RMC’54).
Author’s note, bias acknowledged: My classmate, Dave Wightman (Varsity Tennis, Ski Team Manager, Boxing), though never a star athlete, participated actively in sports at Royal Roads and at RMC. Dave is yet another of our finest and most highly-admired leaders. After graduating from RMC, Dave chose the military route for his future. He enjoyed an especially successful career in the RCAF culminating in his appointment as Commander, Canadian Forces Europe, 1983-1986. Dave retired in March, 1987 and now lives in Victoria with his wife, Tannis. Dave is a long-standing member of the Vancouver Island Branch of the RMC Club and served as its Secretary-Treasurer for six years. He is also the founder and Project Manager of the exceptionally fine Royal Roads Paverstone Project which has seen over 1,000 engraved granite Ex-cadet pavers installed at the Mast Site at Royal Roads University. The Project has thus far raised over $200,000 for various military heritage projects at the University. We made an attempt to define Leadership earlier in this Series about Sports. Major-General D.P. Wightman (Ret’d), just “Dave” to many of us, is a great example of an outstanding Canadian military leader continuing to lead in retirement. That is leadership, defined. Carry on, Dave.
Aquatic sports had been prominent at RMC from its beginning in 1876 “but they were limited to intramural competition at the Annual Regatta composed of both swimming and boat races on the waters of Navy Bay”. As was the case for all of the sports at RMC in the early post-war years, the start-up for Swimming was from “ground zero”, zero pool in this case. There was no pool at the College until one was opened early in 1951. “Every cadet anxiously watched this new addition to the College take place.” RMC Commandant Brigadier Agnew and Dr. R.A. Preston were very much involved in ensuring that the most modern pool of its time came into being.
In 1950: The Marker reported on the “Second Annual Inter-Squadron Swim Meet held at the Queen’s pool”. There evidently was a “First Annual Inter-Squadron, possibly at the Queen’s pool which had been used by RMC the previous year by RMC divers who were preparing for the Royal Roads tournament.
In 1951: The Official Opening of the new pool took place on January 27, 1951 with a short address by the Commandant followed by a swimming meet with Queen’s, a marvelous display of diving by
Queen’s athletes, and a very fine show performed by the Queen’s Aqua Maids. Although the cadet team
established four new RMC records on this occasion, Queen’s won the meet. The record setters in individual events were 3038 Eddy Dumalo (RMC’53) and 2944 John “Speed” Reid (RMC’53), 3070 “Fritz” McDougall (RMC’53) and 3203 George Cumyn (RMC’54) set a new mark in a Medley Relay, and Dumalo, Reid, 2873 Archie Bowen (RMC’52), and 2800 Ian Williamson (RMC’52) established a new record for the Free Style Relay. Ian Williamson, another outstanding leader, became CWC in his final year at the College.
The team next met Sir George Williams College for a meet at the Central YMCA in Montreal. Archie Bowen won the 50 yards event and the 100 yards relay team also won again in record time, but the cadets came up one event short of tying Sir George in this meet. Their next meet was in Port Hope where the cadets were soundly defeated by strong teams from Trinity College School and Oakwood Collegiate of Toronto. In an Intermediate Intercollegiate Meet at Hart House in Toronto with the University of Toronto, Western, and McMaster and, as guests in an annual meet between the University of Toronto and Western, “the results showed that the College is not lacking in intermediate intercollegiate material”. Cadets Bowen, Dumalo, McDougall, Reid, 3076 Ned Mundell (RMC’53), and 3191 Gerry Beament (RMC’54) were said to be “due a good hand for the fight they put up”.
For the final event of their season RMC and Queen’s jointly sponsored a meet inviting eleven universities and colleges in the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Intermediate Intercollegiate Conference with a view to forming a swimming league among members in the Conference. Sir George Williams, McGill University, and St. Patrick’s College of Ottawa took up the challenge and sent swimmers. RMC was second to Sir George Williams in number of wins in this meet that “gave us a good indication of the strength of our team in comparison to other colleges in the Conference.”
Congratulations were extended to four RMC cadets for being named to the newly-established Canadian Collegiate All Star Swimming Team for 1951. Cadet Bowen was named to the team for the time he recorded in the 50 Yards Free Style. Cadets Williamson, Bowen, McDougall, and Reid were named to the team for the team’s time in the 200 Yards Relay.
In 1952: The College Swimming Team had four meets during the season. A capacity crowd attended the 1952 Annual Invitation Swim Meet at RMC with Queen’s, Carleton and RMC competing. Cadet swimmers 3410 Bob Cullwick (RMC’55), 3354 Gord Luke (RMC’55) and Cadet diver 3197 Neil Boivin (RMC’54) earned plaudits for their “all-out performance throughout the meet”. The second meet was in Ottawa against Carleton and St. Pat’s. Next, with some members of the team away at the Royal Roads Tournament, the rest of the team took part in a an Intermediate Intercollegiate meet in Toronto in which teams from the University of Toronto and Western were official competitors and RMC, McMaster and OAC of Guelph competed as guests. The final meet of the year was in Montreal at McGill University for the Second Annual Ottawa-St. Lawrence Conference Swimming Meet. Six teams participated: McGill, Queen’s, Carleton, Loyola, Laval and RMC. With many members of the cadet team in their first year of competitive swimming the team managed only a fifth place finish but showed a lot of promise for the future. Re-building is sometimes painful and it takes time to accomplish.
In 1953: In their opening meet of the season in Toronto, in an exhibition meet against the University of Toronto, the cadet team impressed the Toronto Intermediate Intercollegiate team giving them very tough competition. Toronto Varsity won, but only by 37-32 points. Most of the races were “hard-fought, close, and thrilling”. The Cadet swimmers earning congrats for their performances were:
McDougall, Luke, 3422 Richard Cockfield (RMC’55), 3309 Claude Rinfret (RMC’54), 3582 Bob Morrison (RMC’56), 3221 Jon Jennekens (RMC’54) and Cadet divers 3269 George Clendinnen and 3624 Gerry Freill (RMC’56).
In the next meet against Queen’s RMC’s swimmers came from behind in the final event to win the meet, an exciting one in which seven records were broken. Luke, Cockfield, 3028 Dick Day (RMC’53) set a new College record in the 150 Yards Medley Relay. Morrison established a new RMC record for the 100 Yards Free Style race and McDougall and Rinfret excelled once again and 3303 John Neroutsos (RR’52/RMC’54) put in a good effort in the Individual Medley Relay. Cockfield lost by a mere fraction of a second but set a new College record in the 100 Yards Backstroke. Luke won the 100 Yard Breast Stroke in record time. The 200 Yard Relay decided the outcome of the meet. The Cadet team of Scott, Morrison, Day, and McDougall saved the day for RMC and did so in record time.
Major success finally arrived for RMC Swimming in March, 1953 at home when RMC played host to the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Conference Intermediate Swimming Championship Meet with Queen’s, McGill, Laval University and RMC participating. “This was one of the final sports events for the year and the cadet swimmers gave one of their best performances for the occasion taking the Intercollegiate Swimming Championship.” Morrison led the cadet team with first place in the 50 Yard Free Style and in the 100 Yard Free Style. Clendinnen earned a third place score in the One Meter Diving event and Luke placed second in the tiring 100 Yard Breast Stroke. Day, McDougall, Reid, and Morrison managed a second place finish in the 200 Yard Free Style Relay, earning just enough points to give RMC the Championship edging out Queen’s 32-30 and clinching the Championship for the College.
RMC was now recognized as being competitive in intercollegiate-level Swimming. Well done, gents.
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3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, RMC Class of ’54, Cadet Wing Sports Officer 1953-54