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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Tenacious Rosie Warden loved basketball, Boys and Girls’ Club of Ottawa and her family

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-at-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Twenty Ottawa and area swimmers are on the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic radar, 16 have received trials’ invites and seven are eyeing the 2021 Tokyo Games.

The modified Canadian Olympic and Paralympic swimming trials are slated for April 7-11 in Toronto, after a three-day, pre-meet training period. There will be a maximum of 20 swimmers in each event.

Strictly following all COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, all races will be timed finals as each event will have two 10-swimmer competitions. There will be no spectators.

Swimming Canada recently issued its initial list ranking the top 30 athletes in each Olympic event based on long-course race results from Sept. 1, 2018 to Dec. 6, 2020. Trial invitations were sent to the top 20.

The deadline for first-round acceptances was Friday, Jan. 15, and, depending on what races the swimmers select, more invitations could be extended in the second round, beginning Jan. 20.

Eli Wall. File photo

Montana Champagne and Regan Rathwell, both of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club, Eli Wall of Toronto Swim Club, Ottawa’s Alexandre Perreault, Smiths Falls’ Bailey Andison of Perth Stingrays Aquatic Club, and Pembroke’s Alyson Ackman of Pointe-Claire S.C. will press for an Olympic berth.

Two-time Paralympian Camille Berube of Natation Gatineau is the only National Capital Region swimmer in the Paralympic swim trials, which will have 44 world-ranked qualifiers.

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Champagne has achieved the FINA B Olympic qualifying time standard in the 400-metre IM (4:21.40) and 200m butterfly (1:59.21), where he’s ranked No. 2 in Canada for both races and is No. 4 in the 200m IM (2:02.09).

“He has had a really good year so far,” said his former University of Ottawa coach Dave Heinbuch. “He’s on the outside a little bit, but we’re hopeful.”

He’s about 2.5 to 3 seconds off FINA A standard in his 200m races.

Wall, a Toronto Titans International Swimming League team member, is No. 2 in Canada in 200m breaststroke (2:12.80) and No. 3 in 100m breaststroke (1:01.70), which are both FINA B standards.

Perreault, who represented Canada at the 2018 world short-course championships and 2019 Universiade, has the B standard in the 100m butterfly (53.47) and is ranked No. 3 nationally.

Andison, who posted good short-course results inside the International Swimming League bubble, is No. 3 and No. 5 respectively in the 200m IM (2:11.33, A standard) and 400m IM (4:45.20, B).

Ackman, a triple medallist at the 2019 Lima Pan-Am Games, has national top-10 rankings in six freestyle races, including five FINA B standards. She’s one to three seconds off the A standard over 100m, 200m and 400m.

Rathwell, who has committed to the University of Tennessee for 2022 and raced the 200m backstroke A final at the 2019 Canadian world championships trials, is ranked No. 5 in 200m back (2:12.39, B), and No. 9 in 100m back (1:01.16, B).

Berube, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, is ranked No. 6 in the world in the SM7 class 200m IM. She also will race in S7 backstroke and S6 breaststroke races at the trials.

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Lauren Shearer (200m breaststroke), William Barrett (200m breaststroke), Louis Bertrand (400m freestyle) and Conor Smythe (200m backstroke) will be looking to crack the top 8 at trials.

The top-20 rankings also include five swimmers from the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club: Madison Archer, 800m/1,500m freestyle; Mia Zahab, 200m butterfly/400m IM; Megan Wheeler, 200m backstroke; David Quirie, 200m/800m/1,500m freestyle; and Colton Milne, 200m breaststroke.

Hoping for a top-20 promotion after qualified swimmers make their choices are: Gee-Gees’ Adelle Yamashita-Ball, 800m freestyle, and Jamie Demers, men’s 100m breaststroke; Barracudas’ Breckin Gormley, 100m butterfly; and Swim Ottawa’s Gabriel Tejada, 100m butterfly.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

Rosie Warden. Photo:

By Martin Cleary

Rosie Warden loved basketball and the game loved her. Rosie Warden loved the Boys and Girls’ Club of Ottawa and the campers loved her. Rosie Warden loved her family and her children loved her.

Tenacious, hard working, dedicated and caring, when you connected with Warden, you were impacted by someone extraordinary, someone who was committed to her cause, positive and was greatly considerate of how others felt. She loved people.

In a nutshell, Warden grew up at the Boys and Girls’ Club of Ottawa immersed herself into basketball and came back to the club as an adult. She took her polished playground ball skills to St. Patrick’s High School and Carleton University and developed into an award-winning player.

After graduation in 2001 and passing on an opportunity to play professionally in Europe because of a knee injury, Warden continued to love the game as a referee and coach. She brought that love of the game home to her children.

Today, Warden’s skill and determination is reflected in her son AJ Osman, 15, who is attending St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, ON. AJ is recognized as a quality player, who will catch the eye of university recruiters.

Three years ago, the upbeat and smiling role model was assessed the ultimate foul. Warden would have pleaded her innocence, but there was no ref in sight. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She passed Nov. 10 at age 42.

“Rosie was tenacious on the basketball court, one of the toughest players ever,” wrote her Carleton University Ravens coach Alex Overwijk in an e-mail interview. “Rosie always had a smile on her face and had a kind word for everyone. She was an exceptional human being.”

Warden played four years at Carleton and was one of the pillars of the team that went from 0-20 in the OUA East in her freshman year (1997-98) to a fourth-place 8-12 showing, the playoffs and the team’s best record in 17 years (2000-01).

In her senior year (2000-01), Warden was honoured as the OUA East defensive player of the year, a league all-star for the third consecutive season, and was named the most valuable player on the Carleton women’s basketball team for a third time in her career.

Overwijk was introduced to Warden by former Carleton coach John Scobie, who would coach her in her senior year. “What impressed me immediately about Rosie was she was very tenacious and was an excellent athlete,” Overwijk added.

“Rosie brought it every day. She was a big part of creating a culture of grinding it out day in and day out,” he wrote. And she did that in the face of three unproductive seasons – combined 5-55 OUA and 16-66 overall – before her highlight fourth year.

Ottawa’s Nadine Crowley, a retired international basketball referee, officiated many of Warden’s games and then watched her develop into a quality referee in the Ottawa basketball community with a “strong, calm and approachable manner.”

Crowley considered Warden “a gifted athlete and an intense competitor,” and admired her “positivity, strength and courage, and appreciated her no-nonsense attitude. I truly respected the loyalty and love she had for her family and friends.”

Warden carried a high basketball IQ onto the court. While encouraging and supporting her teammates, she wasn’t afraid to challenge the referees “to work hard to keep up with her high-level basketball skills,” according to Crowley.

“Rosie was a physical player, who was always in the thick of the action,” Crowley said via e-mail. “She was always talking and did not hesitate to let referees know what they had missed on the court, but was quick with a sly smile, a funny quip, after sharing what was on her mind.”

Warden was a well-respected referee because of her basketball knowledge, being a firm decision maker and “balanced her authority with being fair to those in the game,” Crowley said.

Investing a lot of her spare time to either coaching or refereeing at the Boys and Girls’ Club of Ottawa, Warden mentored young officials and volunteered to join the Foundations for Access to Basketball Referee Mentorship Program at the club’s Dumaurier site.

Warden started at club as a member of the Police Youth Centre. After university, she became a part-time senior worker and then a full-time youth development program specialist at the Rochester clubhouse.

Her final assignment at the club was as manager of the outdoor education and leadership camp program. When COVID-19 closed the overnight camps this summer, Warden used the opportunity to find other ways to connect with counselors, campers and family.

“I cannot image a person who has a bigger heart,” wrote Adam Joiner, the club’s CEO, in an e-mail interview. “Rosie embodied positivity, even in her brave fight with cancer. Rosie’s smile could light up the room.

“But more, (she) made our members feel that they had someone who truly cared about them. She was incredibly hard working and dedicated. She loved camp. She loved her family (and her extended basketball and club family).

“She loved making a difference in the lives of children and youth. Over the past few days, I’ve had dozens of former members reach out to share stories of how amazing she was and the difference she made for them.”

Warden was an incredible leader who cared about her own and club children and a true example of hard work gets the job done. “Ottawa was lucky to have her impact in so many ways,” Joiner added. “I’m lucky to have called her a friend.”

At the same time she worked tirelessly with the youth at the club, she was a loving mother. “There are many people in the Ottawa community who would attribute their love for the game because of what Rosie Warden did for them,” Overwijk added.

“Maybe her greatest contribution is her role as a mother. Rosie has raised her children to be the type of people that all of us would be proud of as parents. Her impact is legendary. She will be missed.”

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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