Profile: Linda Berry, ATB’s Longest Continuous Member!

Name: Linda Berry 
First year of ATB membership: 1975 or 1976 
Total years of ATB membership: 48(?) and counting! 
Favorite stroke: backstroke 
Number of family members currently swimming with ATB: 3 – Linda; her daughter, Lesley; and her son-in-law, Paul

Linda (L) and Lesley love a good party.
Photo credits: Lesley Berry

Linda and her youngest grandson get ready for pool
time in Florida.

Linda Berry can’t remember exactly when she first joined the Alderwood Teddy Bares swim club–maybe 1975 or 1976 – certainly before her daughter was born in 1977. Linda was a young mother looking for some fitness and fun, and she’d heard about Ted Roach’s new group at Alderwood, and she wanted to give it a try. She joined up, and she’s been a member ever since.

While some things have changed – we’re not doing 9:45-11:00 p.m. practice times any more! – many things are the same. Most notably how much she’s enjoyed the many people she’s swam with throughout the years.

I sat down with Linda to talk a little bit about her experiences with the club through the years. [This conversation is edited for clarity and length.]

Q: While you’ve continuously been a member since the mid-1970s, did you find over the years that you changed the way you attended at different points in your life?

A: Certainly when I was raising kids it was harder to go at supper time or at times when they were swimming. At one point we had practices from 9:45 to 11:00 at night–that was the only pool time we could get. I would go with a neighbor. And after swimming we would go to Knob Hill Farms, which would be open 24 hours, and do our grocery shopping. There were some times when Lesley would have a practice and I would have a practice, so I would take her to one pool, leave, go and do my practice, and go back and pick her up again.

At one point we needed lifeguards I don’t know if it was to save money or what, but we all took a lifesaving course and we took turns being on deck being as the lifeguard, but eventually our credentials ran out and the requirements became stricter than what we had, so we had to use hired lifeguards.

So over the years has it changed? Yes, how it fits in with my lifestyle. 

What has been distressing has been going from the middle fast lanes to the outer slow lanes over the years! However, it’s to be expected.

Linda’s grandson is making her do all the swimming
at the cottage.

It’s never too early for Linda to start teaching
her grandson to swim!

Q: From your perspective, how has the approach from the coach changed over the years?

A: In terms of stroke correction, I know that Ted Roach – the original “Teddy Bare” – was a believer that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. You can make them do it for an hour or so in a practice, but will it sink in? Probably not.

Ted was the club’s original coach, but Ted was an in-water coach. He wanted to swim as much as anybody, so he’d give us a workout and then he would get in and do it along with the team, which was very different from what we have now. Now we have somebody who’s not only giving you the workout, but observing how you do it, giving pointers, getting into camerawork, and whatnot. In between we’ve had Kim-style coaching, which I’ve heard described as “fifty 50s on 0:50.” [Said with a smile that implied she didn’t mind it so much!]

Q: Did you know any of the team members before you joined?

A: No. I’d heard about this new thing, masters swimming. I looked it up and found that there was a program here which was really just an offshoot of the age-group swimmers. The parents of the Alderwood age-groupers started the club. 

Q: What are some of your best memories of your time swimming with the team?

A: Probably the out-of-the-water events. 

We used to have great Christmas parties with various Santas.

I loved Sports Day. I made a list of sports days–33 sports days were held at 3 different locations. 

I loved the travel. I went to 1 Worlds, 11 Nationals, and 15 provincials over the years. I got to see lots of the country. From St. John, NB, to Vancouver and lots of places in between. And I did several US nationals. That was fun.

I also helped out with five lake swims for three different swimmers over the years. I was support in the boat while the swimmers were crossing Lake Ontario.

Linda holds her 200m backstroke medal from the 1985 Worlds competition.
Photo Credit: Gregg Thurlbeck

Q: Where was Worlds, and what was that like?

A [laughing]: It was in Etobicoke.

All the winners each day – there was waterpolo and so on; it was an aquatics competition, not just swimming – they all had to go to a ceremony at the Sheraton downtown. So each night they had entertainment for the people who came. I had my young son with me at the time. And the entertainment that night was some belly dancers, and he was sitting there trying not to look… “Mom, what have you brought me to?!”

Q: What are some of your memories about Alderwood pool?

A: I had spent all my youth in Memorial pool on Montgomery Road, so this was a whole new pool coming down here. The pool then…the pool itself looked like it does now, but this end [with the large windows] was outside. The windows were here, but this [where we were sitting in the lobby on the other side of the windows] was outside. Those windows were not very well insulated. When they built the new school, that’s when they added on this lobby.

Q: Did you find it cold with those windows leading directly to the outside?

A: Not that I remember. 

But I do remember seeing how vicious the sky was as I was swimming along doing my backstroke when that tornado struck Barrie. We could see that it was not good weather outside, and when we came out and heard what had happened it was quite a shock.

Q: You have so many memories from over all the years – is there anything that stands out more than the rest?

A: It’s the neat people you meet over the years – you can’t name them all, there are so many of them!

(Left) Linda and the happy couple at Lesley and Paul’s wedding. (Above) Linda and her daughter, Lesley.