Jacques Amyot

Jacques Amyot, long-distance swimmer, athlete (b at Québec City 13 Nov 1924). On 23 Jul 1955, Jacques Amyot entered Québec sports history by being the first person to swim across LAC SAINT-JEAN. Despite strong winds and some rain, he covered the 26-kilometre distance between Veauvert beach at the mouth of the Péribonka River and the city of Roberval in 11 hours and 48 minutes.

The success of this feat was not by chance, but through training, work, and discipline. Jacques Amyot began his career as a professional swimmer in 1948. In the 8 years that followed, this expert in the crawl carried off the classique de nage de Québec at Lac St-Joseph and was a 5 time Québec championship winner of the 8-kilometre event.

In 1954, at the age of 29, Jacques Amyot swam the 33 kilometres separating Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Québec City. The next year, several months after his achievement at Lac Saint-Jean, he again plunged into the St Lawrence River and succeeded in swimming around Ile d'Orléans, a distance of approximately 80 kilometres.

In 1956, Amyot took advantage of a popular subscription campaign that enabled him to take on a new challenge. In fact, on 17 Jul 1956, he produced a world record by becoming the first male Canadian to cross the English Channel. Leaving from Cap Gris-Nez in France, he had to swim in frigid waters and battle strong currents before reaching the shore of England some 13 hours later. On 29 Aug 1975, at the age of 50, he undertook the journey again, setting a record as the swimmer who had succeeded in 2 crossings separated by the greatest gap of time - 19 years!

Between these European achievements, Amyot pursued his career as a distance swimmer by increasing the number of his exploits and records, including covering the distance from Neuville to Québec City several times. He returned to Lac Saint-Jean again in 1959, 1962, and for the 20th crossing in 1974. During his career, Jacques Amyot won 8 national swim titles and also distinguished himself in various skiing disciplines (cross-country, downhill, and ski jumping) during the 1940s and 1950s.

In July 1989, the Traversée internationale du lac Saint-Jean (an important swimming marathon) acknowledged Amyot's contribution by unveiling a monument in his likeness on Roberval's municipal dock.

Following this initial honour, Amyot was inducted into the QUEBEC SPORTS HALL OF FAME in 1993. Two years later the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale (Fla) named him an Honouree in open water swimming. He was named to the Temple de la renommée de la natation québécoise (Québec Swimming Hall of Fame) in the athlete category as "Maitre de Québec," 1998, and 2 years later, Swim Canada recognized his contribution to swimming in Québec. In 2001, Jacques Amyot became a Chevalier in the ORDRE NATIONAL DU QUÉBEC.