Inducted November 20, 1993
John Drinkwater, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, came to Newfoundland in 1959 and with him brought a competitive spirit which still exists in a program he started at Memorial University when he first arrived. John coached the MUN swim team for a period of 18 years and led them to several AUAA Championships and placed his teams as high as fifth place in CIAU Championships.
Some of the athletes in which he was instrumental in their success were swimmers Blair Tucker (1st place TAG rankings in Canada: 1974, Gold Medal Canada Games 1977), Robert Street (1st place TAG rankings in Canada: 1975) and Chris Daly (Bronze Medal Canada Games 1981 and 2 Bronze at CIAU Championships). Ralph Wheeler, Carson Noel, Paul Stokes and hundreds of other swimmers benefited from John’s guidance through their university swimming careers and beyond. One of John’s varsity swimmers, Marc Campbell, was still competing for Newfoundland as a member of the Canada Games team this past summer.
John instilled into an individual or team the competitive desire to train and compete to the best of their ability. He was able to constantly transform his athletes to perform beyond what they thought was attainable. His athletes wanted to succeed in the swimming pool as much for him as for their own sense of personal accomplishment.
John introduced the sport of diving to the province and was the only coach in the province until the early 1970’s. He introduced the Atlantic diving championships at the university level and was instrumental in forming the Provincial Diving Association.
John’s knowledge of the aqua sports, his enormous commitment and the genuine personal interest he showed toward his swimmers, is enormously responsible for the development and success of swimming in Newfoundland during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.