Kevin Auger

1980 Moscow – Kevin Auger


Imagine training so hard that your mind and body are ready for Olympic trials and then you find out your country isn’t participating in the international games.

That’s what happened to Kevin Auger. The Guelph native swam with the Guelph Marlins for most of his life and moved over to ROW in September 1980 to swim under the direction of motivational coach Cliff Barry.

Auger said he wasn’t shattered at the news of the Olympic boycott because he thought he would attend the 1984 Olympics.

“I was young and I thought there was more to come,’’ said Auger, who was 19 at the time. He went to the Olympic trials in Etobicoke and his time was 2:01.28 in the 200 metre butterfly.

Instead, the team competed in various international competitions including one in Hawaii where the who’s who of swimming who had boycotted the games was there.

The U.S.-led boycott included 65 countries who decided they would not attend the Moscow games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Moscow games were the first time the Olympics were staged in Eastern Europe.

Auger trained under Barry from 1980 to 1984 and worked hard setting his sights on the 1984 games. But in 1983, Auger hurt his left arm and started to lose feeling in it.

Auger said the tendonitis in his arm was likely from a stroke flaw learned when he was younger. Auger said learning the proper stroke fundamentals is essential because it becomes difficult to unlearn habits set at a young age.

Auger retired from swimming and went on to coach the Cambridge Aquajets from 1984 to 1986 and then his home team, the Marlins, for the next 10 years.

In 1996, Auger moved to Evanston, Illinois, a suburb outside of Chicago. His wife, originally from Chicago, wanted to move back home. Auger was familiar with the area because he had graduated from the University of Indiana with a degree in business administration. He attended the school on a swimming scholarship and trained in the pool there with other American athletes.

Auger is now the coach of the Wildkit Swimming Organization in Evanston that has 180 swimmers ranging in age from six to 26. He’s also busy as the aquatic director at the local high school and coaches the swim team which is large and competitive unlike school teams here in Ontario.

“Swimming is my life. I spent so much time at it and I’ve been coaching ever since,’’ said Auger, now 49.

Auger said swimming is an individual sport that rewards the person who works hard.

“If you put a lot of effort into it, you will be successful,’’ he said.

As a high school student, Auger played volleyball and was the team’s MVP but the team wasn’t very good. Auger said he quickly learned he couldn’t control how well the team competed, just himself and that’s when swimming “became my thing.’’

Auger said he also played the trumpet and the piano but spent most of his time swimming.

But there were setbacks too. In 1976, Auger tried to make it to Olympic trials but failed and then quit swimming for six months.

But then over the summer, the teen grew steadily and was five feet 10 inches by the fall and gave swimming another shot and soon qualified for the national championships.

“You are going to get out of it what you put into it,’’ said Auger, who often tells his students to set goals.

As a swimmer, Auger challenged himself and set short-term and long-term realistic goals. He asks the same of his swimmers.

“I think swimming is a great sport. I love it and I like what it teaches the kids,’’ said Auger, who has three children of his own. The youngest child – a 10-year-old boy- is the only one who swims.

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