Bob Wheaton

Retiring after the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome after establishing more than 30 B.C. and Canadian backstroke, butterfly, medley and relay event swimming records, Bob Wheaton left many people wondering what heights he might have hit had he continued in the sport past the age of 18. Under the guidance of legendary YMCA coach Archie McKinnon, Bob quickly showed adeptness. At 14 he was convinced to try competitive swimming, and stunned onlookers at the Beaver-Elk Lake swim by winning in a record time. While he showed heaps of promise, he considered quitting the sport at 15 but stayed to avoid disappointing others. That decision proved a good one as he went on to best much more experienced swimmers. Emerging as a backstroke specialist, Bob shattered Canadian junior and senior records and at age 16 captured a bronze in the 110-yard backstroke and silver in the 4 x 110 medley relay at the 1958 British Empire Games. In 1959 he won the Sid Thomas Memorial award as Victoria's outstanding amateur athlete, beat his own 100-metre backstroke record and won relay silver at the Pan-Am Games in Chicago. There was satisfaction and disappointment in Rome in 1960. He helped the men's medley team finish fourth, but a miscalculation in the backstroke semifinal resulted in him missing a spot in the final. Regardless of that missed opportunity, Bob's achievements have left an indelible mark in Canadian swimming history.


Victoria enjoys a stellar sports history and we celebrate the many athletes, teams and builders who have contributed to that history.  Our displays are seen at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (1925 Blanshard St.)  through Gate Three.


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