Different Strokes Calgary (DSC) is a non-profit, volunteer swim club inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and their friends. DSC is dedicated to the master swim program philosophy of “fun and fitness for life” in an environment that is both positive and supportive. To this end, DSC attempts to provide a recreational, competitive and socially active atmosphere in which members may, at their option, participate. (Also see our bylaws.)
The first Calgary swim club catering to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities was originated by David Whiteside in early 1993, under the name of Chinook City Aquatics. Inadequate interest at that time resulted in cancellation of the program six months later.
A reincarnation of this original idea, Different Strokes Calgary was co-founded by Dan MacGregor and James Cooke. Dan, with the help of James, pulled together a group of swimmers for a meeting to determine if there was enough interest to make this project work. As a result of that meeting, it was decided to form a gay, lesbian, and bisexual swim club, swimming once a week at an appropriate location for a three month trial period.
The club’s first swim workout was held March 5, 1995 at the Lindsay Park Sports Centre. Coaching staff consisted of Dan MacGregor, Head Coach, assisted by Nancy Ingram, Beginners Coach, and Rick Matthews, Competitive Coach. Thirteen swimmers showed up on the first day.
Early in September 1995, the club moved training facilities to the YWCA and increased the swim times to Wednesdays and Sundays. After a year of excellent growth in the club, our coach resigned to take up other activities, and Rita Bercan was hired as Head Coach, along with our Assistant Coach, Graham Taylor. Dan MacGregor and Pat Lee Loy continued to share coaching responsibilities for beginner swimmers. After another two wonderful years with the team, Rita Bercan left to pursue other activities, allowing Graham Taylor to take over the duties of Head Coach. Since that time, Pat Lee Loy has moved on to Pennsylvania and now swims with the Philadelphia Fins.
In 1997, DSC averaged approximately 20 swimmers per practice, and we now have a full membership of 40+ swimmers!
In 2007 DSC moved Sunday practices to SAIT while Wednesdays remained the YWCA. In September 2007 the team moved both practices to SAIT and began swimming Thursdays and Sundays.
In 2015 DSC started swimming additionally on weeknights at the Talisman Centre on Wednesdays. Starting fall of 2016, both practices moved to Repsol Sports Centre (formerly Talisman Sports Centre) and will swim on Fridays and Sundays.
DSC is a member of Swim Alberta (and of course FINA), as well as the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA), a governing body for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. To date, club members have attended swim meets in different parts of North America, i.e. Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta to name a few). Europe destinations have included Paris, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. Locally we attend meets in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Every four years the Gay Games and /or the Outgames feature a five day swimming competition with participants from all around the world. Our past participation in these games were in Sydney, 2002, Chicago and Montréal in 2006, and Copenhagen in 2010.
Dan MacGregor still spends some of his time coaching the beginner swimmers and can still sometimes be seen in a swimsuit. Bill Culham is our current Head Coach and creates some pretty imaginative workouts that are fun to swim.
The club has established a reputation as quite social with a number of fun events over the course of each swim season. DSC also helps raise funds in the community. Our past participation included a swim-a-thon in the fight against Breast Cancer, helping out with Small Change Big Changes and the AIDS fundraiser fashion show, Calgary Cares.
Dan MacGregor is one of the founding members of the club and has been with the club since the inception. He still spends some of his time coaching the beginner swimmers and can still sometimes be seen in a swimsuit. Dan is a busy accountant by trade so you may notice him vanish here and there through March and April (tax time!) but we do our best to ensure swimmers are always looked after.
William (Bill) Culham is our newest coach and started with our Different Strokes family in the 2017/2018 season. He’s a Level III NCCP coach, a Level V Master official, and a Skills Coach Assessor.
Originally from Cabri, Saskatchewan, his teaching and aquatic career has taken him to multiple provinces from Saskatchewan to the Yukon and finally here to Alberta. His various accomplishments include starting the Aquanauts (a summer club) in Lloydminster, President and coach for the St Paul summer club, instructed the Swim Alberta – “I Can Swim” program and was recognized as Swim Alberta’s Builder of the Year.
Bill has also worked the Pan Pacific Swim Meets; head coached the Zone D Alberta Summer Games team and during the Mountain View Games; and coached accomplished athletes at the Commonwealth Games Trials on Vancouver Island.
He continues to offer Official Clinics for the Red Deer Catalina and Red Deer Marlins, and the Ponoka Pool Sharks. The last six years, Bill has coached the Red Deer Masters – Silver Sharks. The Sharks have done well at Alberta Provincials, and World Masters Championships!