George Vernot

George Vernot, (born at Montréal 27 Feb 1901; died there 22 Nov 1962). George Vernot was a swimmer and WATER POLO player who participated in the SUMMER OLYMPICS in SPEED SWIMMING in Antwerp (1920), and in Paris (1924).

At the of 18, this young man who was 6 feet tall and weighed almost 200 pounds, attracted public attention at the Canadian freestyle championships. At this time, he won the championship title in the 100, 220 and 440 yard events.

The following year, Vernot, sporting the colours of the Montreal Swimming Club, again won renown at the national championships held in early July at Montréal's Île Sainte-Hélène under the auspices of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association. In addition to Canadian titles, the results of these events would determine those swimmers who would compete for Canada in the Antwerp Olympics. Vernot began the competition by sizing up George HODGSON, the holder of two 1912 Olympic gold medals in the one mile distance. The next day, in the 100 yard backstroke, he finished second. Then, he won the 440 yard freestyle and scored a new Canadian record in the 220 yard race.

A few weeks later, in Antwerp, Vernot became the second Canadian swimmer to win an Olympic medal. Although he took fifth place in the 100 metre race, he won a silver medal in the 1500 metre freestyle and a bronze in the 400 metre.

Two years after the Olympics, the Montréaler became captain of the swimming team at McGILL UNIVERSITY, where he graduated in civil engineering. He held this position from 1922 to 1925, and also forged a solid reputation as a forward in water-polo. During his studies he accumulated university records in distances varying from 50 to 220 yards in freestyle, and was on the relay team.

In 1924, this talented athlete participated in his second Olympics, but despite his efforts, he failed to reach the podium in Paris. The sports community in Québec had surely expected good results from the Montréal student, who several weeks earlier had bested the one mile record held by Norman Ross since 1912 by more than three minutes.

Graduating from McGill University in 1926, Vernot was named head of Montréal's evaluation services in 1948. He passed away in that city the 22 Nov 1962. Several years later on 10 Apr 1969, the City of Montréal honoured him with a park. Parc George-Vernot, with a half-sized Olympic pool is located in the neighbourhood of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc Extension.