Jill (Taylor) Leon- 1979

…female athlete of the year in ’76 and National record holder on the Axettes’ swim teams that captured C.I.A.U. titles in ’76-’77 and ’77-’78.

Jill (Taylor) Leon, a ’79 graduate of Acadia, was a key member of the Jack Scholz-coached women’s swim teams that won National Intercollegiate titles during the ’76-’77 and 77-’78 academic years.

Jill made a tremendous impact during her initial season as an Axette performer, establishing both Conference and National records. Being a member of the Conference championship team that included such notables as Charlotte Rogers, Margi MacLeod, Judy Bailey, Colla MacDonald and Pauli Williams, she established Acadia swimming records in the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke and the 500 and 800 freestyle events with respective times of 1:02.3, 2:15.7, 5:34.5 and 8:49.3. It was, however, her record breaking time of 2:15.7 in the 200 backstroke at the ’76 Nationals in Waterloo, Ontario that attracted the media’s attention. Fittingly enough, for her masterful performances in the pool during that ’75-’76 season, she was named Acadia’s Outstanding Female Athlete performer.

During the subsequent season of ’76-’77, Jill was even more outstanding as she continued to establish Acadia, Conference and National swimming records. As the Scholz-guided Axettes won another Conference title and their first-ever National title, she continued to swim in record-breaking time. For example, her time of 2:00.82 in the 200 freestyle at the ’77 Nationals in Etobicoke, represented an Acadia record. It was, however, as part of the 400 medley relay team, in the company of Holly LeReverend, Wendy Stevens and Penney Gaul that established a National Intercollegiate record with a time of 4:06.76, that drew praise from experts across the country.

As the Axettes repeated as Conference and National Intercollegiate champions during the ’77.’78 academic year, Jill continued her creditable performances in the pool. At the Nationals in Vancouver, she was part of a competition that featured tremendous feats by Judy Bailey, Roberta Thomson, Wendy Stevens, Maureen Scott, Penney Gaul and Mary Ellen MacDonald.

Jill (Taylor) Leon indeed was an integral part of a tremendous era in women’s swim teams at Acadia. Records indicate that from 1975 to 1980 inclusive, the Axettes won six consecutive A.U.A.A. championships, two C.I.A.U. National titles, set thirty-one Conference records, and went undefeated in league meets from 1975 to 1979. Individually, during her four-year enrolment at Acadia, Jill is listed seventeen times as part of record-breaking Axette pool performances.

Jill’s many successes as an Axette performer are, of course, a reflection of a lifelong involvement in the sport. During her school days in Prince Edward Island she was that province’s top female swimmer for several years. At the Atlantic Open swim meets in ’72 and ’73 she gained recognition as the region’s best female competitor. From September, 1973 on, she became a member of the Pointe Claire swim team where further honours followed her. In December of ’73, for example, she finished eighth in Canada in the 200 metres backstroke at the Commonwealth trials.

Following graduation from Acadia, Jill became the Head Coach of the Dalhousie Masters Swim Club from 1979 to 1986. From 1987 to 1990 she served as the Head Coach of the John Abbott College swim team that were regional champs in ’88 and ’89. As a Master Swimmer from 1980 to the present time, she has enjoyed much success -including very respectable finishes at the ’94 World Masters Swim Championship.

It is indeed an honour to induct into Acadia’s Sports Hall of Fame, former C.I.A.U. record holder, Jill (Taylor) Leon.