Year Inducted: 2002
Tiny Kinsmen Municipal Pool, a cramped indoor pool, has been home to some of Cornwall’s best swimmers who achieved provincial and national honours. Donna MacDonald-Ryan was one of them.
But Donna, who was a member of the Upper Canada Swim Club, did more than make a name for herself, and her community, in the pool. She later parlayed her generous swimming skills to become a top-ranked competitor in the triathlon, a sport which is known for its gruelling, unforgiving pace.
Of the triathlon, someone once noted that it doesn’t take any prisoners.
Donna was once described in a Maclean’s magazine article as “the sweetheart of the tiny Upper Canada Swim Club.”
As a member of the Upper Canada Swim Club, Donna was named the Lions Club Swimmer of the Year an unprecedented three consecutive years – 1981, 1982, and 1983.
In 1974, Donna set a national record in the breaststroke for eight-year-olds. In 1981 and 1982, she qualified for the nationals in two events, a first for a city swimmer.
In 1989, she turned to the triathlon and made the Canadian National Team, qualifying for the World’s in 1990 (Orlando), 1991 (Australia), and 1992 (Muskoka).
The late Jack Clifton, Donna’s Upper Canada Swim Club coach, once noted that the three levels of competitive swimming were hurt, pain, and agony. “You have to be tough,” said Clifton. Of his shy but serious swimmer, Clifton said she not only met the standard but exceeded it.
Her record as a competitive swimmer and triathlete agrees.