A legendary figure in Abbotsford sports received another honour last Wednesday afternoon.
Swan has been a coach and administrator of track and field for over 50 years. Starting in the early 1960s, he coached track and field athletes at Abbotsford Senior High School. He also coached for specialized track and field clubs such as the Vancouver Olympic Club and the Richmond Kajaks.
These experiences led Swan to become a provincial, national and international coach. He has coached internationally at the Pan American and Commonwealth Games as well as Olympics and World Championships.
Back in 2004, the city of Abbotsford renamed the Rotary Stadium track as the Jane and Gerry Swan Track, in recognition of their contributions to Abbotsford.
Swan also served as president of BC Athletics for many years, and had a stint as president of the BC High School Boys Basketball Association.
He has been head coach of the Valley Royals track club since its inception in 1980. He has coached hundreds of athletes since then, and he and his late wife, Jane, established the Grand Prix Racing Series in 1983 with the first races happening in 1984 at Centennial Park.
Many hundreds of Abbotsford and Mission school children from Grade 4 to 8 have run in the Grand Prix Racing Series over the years.
For multiple generations, Swan has served as the starter for the Grand Prix races so that children who ran in the early years are now parents cheering on their own children as they run the one-mile (1.6 km) course.
Last Wednesday, at the final of four Grand Prix Race days for 2019, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun presented Swan with the award as hundreds of students, teachers and parents cheered and applauded.
Braun, himself a former president of the Royals, spoke about Swan’s long history of coaching and teaching. The mayor was coached as an athlete by Swan as were his son and his grandson.
Braun spoke to recognize, honour and thank Swan for creating the Grand Prix Racing Series and for his 35 years of service starting the races.
A 12-page thank you card for Swan was signed at the finish line by athletes, families, teachers, the mayor and members of the community.