Water Polo Canada would like to acknowledge the passing of an aquatic sports giant, Clifford Barry, who was a two-time Olympian in water polo for Canada in 1972 and 1976. He was also an exceptional swimming coach, a sport in which he earned top honours as well.
A pioneer of Canadian water polo, Clifford passed away last weekend at the age of 75. Clifford Barry and his teammates were among the great Canadian water polo players who helped create a foundation for future generations by qualifying Canada for the first time at the Olympic Games. Our Tokyo Olympians are heirs to that generation of great builders.
“Clifford is an important part of the history of water polo in Canada, and I encourage every fan of the sport to spend a few minutes searching online to read more about his impressive contributions to Canadian aquatics”, mentioned Kathleen Dawson, President of Water Polo Canada.
Clifford began his poloist career with the East-End Boys and Girls Club in Montreal, where he had his first success. A strong swimmer, skilled and competitive, he quickly became one of the elite players of his generation. Clifford was a member of the first teams to represent Canada in international water polo: Pan American Games in 1967, 1971, and 1975; Olympic Games in 1972 and 1976. A natural and charismatic leader, he was the captain of the Canadian team in Munich:
“Clifford was a very charismatic individual who cared about others. He was a great leader! He inspired his teammates by the example he set every day in training. As an athlete and later as a coach, he paid extreme attention to his preparation. Nothing was left to chance," said David Hart, a long-time friend and former teammate of Clifford's.
Clifford retired from water polo in 1976 and chose to coach swimming. He was very successful at it. His association with the late Victor Davis made him Canada's swimming coach of the year in 1982, 1984 and 1986. From 1980 to 1992, he produced bronze, silver and gold medal-winning athletes at most major international swimming events.
He is a member of the Swimming Canada Hall of Fame as a coach and a member of the Concordia and Western University Halls of Fame as a water polo athlete.
Still active in his seventies, Clifford represented Canada in 2017 at the World Masters of Water Polo in Budapest.
David Hart, was also keen to highlight other lesser-known aspects of this man that could not be summed up solely by his sports curriculum:
"He was a genuine, sensitive and human character who had all sorts of interests other than sport including music. I remember him sitting on his balcony in Quebec City in 1975-76, where we were preparing for the Montreal Olympics, playing jazz on his saxophone. It is an image that has stayed with me. He was unique.
Water Polo Canada would like to extend its sympathies to Clifford's family and all his friends who are saddened by his passing.