When thinking about a lifelong swimmer, few can fit the bill as much as Francine Vickery. Francine started competitive swimming when she was 8 years old with the Association of Lakeshore Pools (ALPS), an association of various community outdoor pools. Her team would be up against another local pool every week, and that’s where her love for competition started to grow. She started swimming with the Pointe-Claire swim team when she was 11, when the team was coached by the legendary George Gates.
Her competitive career continued when she went to university, and when she graduated, she joined the master swimming team in Edmonton. She moved in British-Colombia in 1984, where she joined UBC Masters—and it’s still her team to this day! She is the swimmer with the longest tenure, as well as the president of the team. Francine specializes in freestyle middle distance and backstroke events, and competed at Canadian Masters National Championships.
Her love for water definitely comes from her family: her mother was an avid swimmer, and while her father wasn’t as keen a swimmer, he still knew his way around in a pool. She grew up having a family cottage on a lake, where water sports were a huge part of growing up with her brothers. In addition to swimming, Francine enjoys golfing and downhill skiing.
When she’s not in a pool, Francine loves to travel, and make sure to go on a swimming vacation every couple of years. She loves the outdoor and physical activity, like hiking with her dog.
This year, Francine turned 60, and a friend in New Zealand convinced her to participate in a river swim race she organizes, as well as an ocean race. Despite being a little apprehensive, Francine decided to challenge herself, and ended up having a wonderful time. After such a great experience, she decided to join her brother, Glenn Vickery, on his swim journey in Lake of Bays.
The project started because Glenn wanted to raise his community’s awareness of how the shoreline, wildlife and water quality are affected by the development of the lake. The goal was to swim the entire shoreline of the lake, about 215 km, in sections, over a few months. The swim was completed on August 6, 2018, and Francine was able to join him for the last 5 sections, approximately 30 km.
“It has been phenomenal how the support has grown over the course of the project. Our final swim, on August 6, ended where it all began on May 8. People jumped in and swam sections with him. It was amazing to see how many people were waiting at the finish line to support him and his cause!”
After such a long time being part of the swimming community, Francine’s only regret is not having encouraged her children to swim more. Both of them can swim well, but neither one love the water just as much as their mother does. That won’t keep her out of the pool though—when asked if she ever plans of hanging up her suit, she replies, without a doubt: “Nope, I am a swimmer for life!”