Solo Swims of Ontario Inc.

Hall of Fame

John Potocska

Swimmer, Coach, SSO Board Member, and Cliff Lumsdon Awardee 2008

John Potocska had a notable career, as a swimmer, coach and contributor to the operations of SSO, which led to his receipt of the Cliff Lumsdon award in 2008.

SSO Activities:

John and his wife Karen Stoddart contributed significantly to the success of SSO during their years of service on the Board of Directors. They were complementary and each contributed their own special talents.


* 1998-2014: Member of the SSO Board of Directors.
* 2004-2011: Vice President of SSO.

* 2008: Received the SSO Cliff Lumsdon award in 2008 for his range of notable services to SSO.
* He subsequently served as the coordinator for the Lumsdon award until his retirement from SSO in 2014.

* On the left in the photograph, he is seen as VP of SSO with Greg Taylor (SSO President) at the 2011 SSO Awards Ceremony in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


* 2001-2015: Member of the Board of Directors.
* 2002-2003: Secretary SSO.
* While she doesn't consider herself a serious distance swimmer, Karen did take part in the St Mary's 5 km swims in both 1994 and 1996.
* Karen's artistic skills contributed notably to the production of SSO certificates.
* Her Stained Glass Fusing skills, especially, led to the creation of a fused-glass Coaster in the form of the SSO logo. These enviable coasters were used as SSO awards and gifts. They are shown in the adjacent images, along with her own masterpiece that welcomes visitors to their house.
* She was also responsible for organizing the facilities for a number of very successful and cost-effective SSO Workshops.

John's Swimming & Coaching Career:

* John's swimming career began in 1958 under Jimmy Thompson at the Hamilton Aquatic Club and was involved with their All Star Waterpolo Team.
* During his time with Edmonton Sharks, John coached 14-year-old Scotty Olsen as a swimmer, and encouraged Scotty in his transition to become an international Flyweight boxing champion, Scotty Bulldog Olsen.
* In 1968, he worked as a Club Coach in Oakville and was involved in Masters, Senior and Junior water polo activities.
* 1971-1973 Swam at University of Western Ontario under coach Bob Eynon.
* 1972-1973: The Burlington Centurion Swim Team was founded by John and his brother Nick Potocska. Both John and Nick served as coaches
* 1975-1983: He was a coach with the Edmonton Sharks, Alberta.
* 1984: Saw John coaching at Leduc, Alberta.
* 1984-85: Coach at Prince George Barracudas swim club.
* 1985-1988: John returned to Ontario. He conducted some studies at university, worked with/alongside his accountant brother, Nick, in his business, and continued with some of his own swmming and running.
* 1988-1992: Canadian Forces. As a civilian employee, he was involved in a number of activities.
. - He was Head Coach (only Coach) and, with the aid of Volunteer Assistants that he trained, he ran the Canadian Military Beavers children's swim team "The Water Rats".
. - Coach of the Masters Swim Team that included both military and civilian members.
. - Registered Fitness Appraiser of the military staff.
. - Manager of the Canadian Forces Base Pool Facility, including organizing all swim lessons, hiring of pool lifeguards, and swim-teaching staff.
. - While in Germany, John was very active in triathlons, as well as twinning with the local German children's swim team.
* 1989: July 26. English Channel 6-person relay that included both civilian and military personnel.
. - 5 men (John Potocska, Don Kennedy, Paul Arsenault, Gunther Eichhammer and Jo Jo Mansfield) and 1 women (Carole Comtois).
. - Apart from being one of the swimmers, John was the Coach of this "Canadian Forces Base Lahr Channel Rats" team who are listed by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) as the #125 England-France Relay Crossing of the English Channel, with their time of 11 hours 47 minutes.
. - This Relay swim was the first recorded by the CSA as "Canadian".
. - Interestingly, while John was the Coach, he was recruited at the last moment to swim when two of the intended swimmers succumbed to sea-sickness.

* In support of all of his coaching activities, John has held the Bronze Medallion, the Bronze Cross, and C.P.R. certificates of achievement.

This is just a brief summary of John's extensive career in both swimming and coaching. An more extensive listing is covered in the link.

St Mary's 5 km achievements:

* John was one of only three swimmers (Potocska, Marilyn Korzekwa and Bryan Finlay) who ever completed the St Marys 5 km swim on Fly during those years 1986-2008.
* At age 47, he is seen in left photograph, with Bryan Finlay at the end of a 5 km St Marys race in 1998.
* In the right photograph, he is seen at age 51, with UWOAM President Don Hambley, after setting a Fly record in the 50-54 age-group.
* John's versatility is reflected in the Records that John set on each of the strokes throughout the years at St Mary's.
* 1992: Fly Record of 1:40:24, age 40 in the 40-44 age-group.
* 1993: Fly Record of 1:28:09, age 41 in the 40-44 age-group.
* 1996: Breast Record of 1:30:09, aged 44 in the 40-44 age-group.
* 1997: Back Record of 1:33:13, age 45 in the 45-49 age-group.
* 1998: Back Record of 1:31:26, aged 46 in the 45-49 age-group.
* 2001: Free Record of 1:23:26, aged 51 in the 50-54 age-group.
* 2003: Back Record of 1:38:58, aged 52 in the 50-54 age-group.
* 2007: Fly Record of 1:43:46, aged 56 in the 55-59 age-group.

In 2019, John continues to work with the Ontario School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) as a member of their local bargaining team.

He also works with Developmentally Delayed students at Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute (CVI) in Guelph, Ontario where he also coaches their swim team. They have been successful at several of their meets and are listed as the District 4/10 champions for the 3 seasons 2013-2014, 2015-2016, 2017-2018.

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Created: 15th March 2019
Last Updated: 26thNovember 2019