Roberta Thompson

1977-1978 Swim Team

The Acadia women’s swim teams of the late 1970s were consistently among the best in Canada, winning six consecutive conference championships and back-to-back CIAU titles in 1977 and 1978. A big part of the team effort that produced that string of success was provided by Roberta Thomson of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec.

Acadia entered the 1977 AUAA championships as the #1-ranked university women’s swim team in the country, and easily repeated as conference champions. Thomson was one of several swimmers whose results were described as “particularly outstanding.”

At the AUAA finals, the women’s medley relay team of Marjorie MacDonald, Holly LeReverend, Thomson and Penney Gaul broke the CIAU record for the event. Thomson was one of 11 Acadia female swimmers to qualify for the CIAU nationals, where the Axettes captured the school’s first-ever national swimming championship.

In ’77-’78, Thomson played a key part in Acadia repeating as national champs. She was one of several Acadia swimmers to turn in “record-breaking swims and dives” at the conference championships. Thomson established a new AUAA record in the 400 IM, and at the end of the meet was named AUAA Female Swimmer of the Year.

At nationals, Thomson led the way with second-place finishes in the 100 breaststroke and 200 and 400 IM as Acadia outdistanced Alberta to repeat as CIAU champions. The medley relay team of Mary Ellen McDonald, Wendy Stevens, Thomson and Gaul won their event in another new CIAU-record time of 4:36.8. At the end of the school year, Thomson was chosen Acadia’s Female Athlete of the Year for ’77-’78. Later that year she qualified for the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association national championships in British Columbia in an event she had never qualified for in her previous swimming career, the 200 IM.

In ’78-’79, Thomson helped to lead Acadia to a fifth straight conference title, placing first in 100 and 200 breaststroke and second in 200 IM at the AUAA championships. Although Acadia fell short in its quest for a third straight national championship, Thomson certainly did her part, swimming to third-place finishes in the 200 breaststroke and 200 and 400 IM at the CIAU competition.

At the conclusion of that season, in her graduation year, she and teammate Wendy Stevens were co-winners as Acadia’s Female Athlete of the Year. During Thomson’s career, Acadia won the AUAA championship each year, back-to-back national titles, went undefeated in conference meets and established a host of conference and national records.

Following graduation with a BSc in Computer Science, Thomson worked as a programmer and database designer for Air Canada, and also continued to swim at the Masters level, attending two world championships with several top-three finishes. She currently teaches inclusive education at the college and university level, and enjoys combining the two areas of technology and disabilities.

The Acadia Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the athlete category, Roberta Thomson, one of the most successful university swimmers of her era.