John Arthur (Jack) Clifton
Year Inducted: 2000
John Arthur “Jack” Clifton was head coach of the Cornwall Sea Lions Swim Club, on a volunteer basis, for 12 years, taking over from Jocelyn Fraser.
Jack quickly established himself as an exceptional “motivating” swim coach. The Upper Canada Swim Club, as it became known under his tutelage, established a reputation for individual standouts and team depth in competition in Quebec, Ontario, upper New York State and points beyond.
His training regimen rigorously tested the dedication of his small but loyal swim squad. He introduced twice daily 90-minute workouts (morning and afternoon) which included dryland weight training and the latest advancement in coaching techniques. Jack attended coaching clinics and seminars and received formal accreditation from the Canadian Swim Coaching Association.
Numerous swimmers profited from Jack’s dedication and knowledge of coaching. During his 12-year coaching career with the Sea Lions, team members held eight national swim records, while setting or equaling 20 Ontario, Quebec and upper New York State marks. The Lions also won several Eastern Ontario team titles. Under his coaching, members of the team qualified for eight straight national championship appearances.
Jack’s students went on to win national titles, Canadian University Athletic Association medals and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in the U.S.
One of Jack’s students, Pat Lajoie-McConnell, went on to swim for the Division 1 Florida State swim team, one of the top teams in the U.S.
While coaching the Sea Lions, Jack worked as a pipefitter at TCF. His day started with a 6 a.m. team workout at the Kinsmen pool. After work, he was back at the pool to run a 6 p.m. workout. He spent most weekends, 10 months a year, on the road with a station wagon full of young swimmers.
Jack was a “facilitator”, a guy who had a dream for someone else. He gave selflessly to the community and asked nothing for himself in return. His greatest wish for all his young swimmers was that they realize their greatest potential and achieve something for themselves.
He was a special person and an exceptional swim coach.
He was born in 1931, and died June 10, 1998.