Former competitive swimmer and ex-coach Steven Verseghy passed away last week at the age of 49. -Image: Facebook

Kelowna swim community in mourning with death of former coach

A memorial service for Steven Verseghy will be held today at Springfield Funeral Home.

Kelowna has lost a valued member of its swimming community.

Steven Verseghy, a national level swimmer in the 1980s, passed away last week after drowning in Okanagan Lake.

He was 49.

After his days of competitive swimming, Verseghy went on to coach in several cities across Canada, including Kelowna where he moved to in 2000.

One athlete he coached during his time with the Kelowna AquaJets in 2004-05 was Kierra Smith, who went on to win two gold medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games and compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Smith posted the following comments about Verseghy on her Facebook page:

“He was on a completely different level than the rest of us and I don’t know if I’ve encountered anyone with his intensity,” Smith wrote. “He wouldn’t measure a good set with a stopwatch but by how red your face was and how out of breath you were afterwards. Steven didn’t coach that year for the money. He took the job as the Kelowna AquaJet assistant coach because he wanted to give back to the sport that was so good to him.

“Although we’re spread out, the Canadian swimming community is small and it’s even smaller in Kelowna.

“Like most smart people he asked a lot of questions and did most of the listening. He was one of the few who was more interested in learning the details about one of my random November workouts than a big meet somewhere.”

Verseghy was born in Toronto and competed with the Ajax Swim Club. He eventually made it on to Canada’s national men’s team in the 1980s where he swam with the likes of Victor Davis and Alex Baumann.

A celebration of Steve’s life will be held on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 at 1 p.m. at Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Road in Kelowna.

Steven is survived by his wife Natalie Verseghy and their daughters, Hayley and Lauren Verseghy.