ALEXANDER, Lisa
Synchronized Swimming
Born: September 22, 1968
Toronto, Ontario

At the height of her considerable accomplishments, swimming buddies used to call her Alexander The Great-a most fitting monicker for the Mississauga synchronized swimmer who had gone on from the obscurity of a learn-to-swim program at the Huron Park Recreation Centre's pool to rule Canada and conquer much of the aquatic world.

Lisa Alexander's natural abilities and relentless desire to succeed, indeed had her to rise to great heights, in her 12 years as a member of Canada's national synchro swim team winning, among others, an Olympic Silver Medal (1996, Atlanta); three World Cup silvers (1995, Atlanta); a silver and bronze in the 1991 World Championships (Perth, Australia); two bronze and a silver at the 1994 World Championships (Rome); solo and duet gold at the Commonwealth Games (1994); a pair of silver medals at the Pan American Games (1995); two golds, along with a special prize for winning the figures, at the prestigious Rome Open (1995); and Canadian National championship titles (solo three times, duet twice and team three times).

She also won medals in the Pan American Games, Goodwill games, Pan-Pacific competitions and several European Open Championships, was the flag bearer for Canada in the '84 worlds in Rome and team captain in the Atlanta Olympics where she bid farewell to a highly successful career with a silver medal.

In 1995, she was chosen Ontario's Female Athlete of the Year and between 1993 and '96, Alexander The Great reigned as Mississauga's Female Athlete of the Year four times (sharing the honours with gymnast Stella Umeh in '94 and water skier Judy McClintock Messer in '95). She was also inducted into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame at the '99 Silver Anniversary dinner.

Quite a handful for an athlete who got her competitive start as an eight year old with the Mississauga Synchronized Swim Club at the Huron Park pool.

The spunky young female athlete from Mississauga first served notice that she was aiming for lofty goals when, in only her second season on the national team, Lisa emerged as the toast of the 1986 Canadian Championships in Hamilton, where she won gold medals in all three events available to her. The most satisfying win occurred in solo where she beat out fellow Mississaugan Karen Clark (a foe in the pool but friend out of the water) for the gold. The two later teamed to capture the duet title then helped Etobicoke Olympium clinch the team title.

With Olympic and world champions Helen Vanderburgh, Carolyn Waldo and Sylvie Frechette all retired, the task of keeping Canada in the forefront of international synchronized swimming was inherited by Lisa Alexander.

"They're quite big shoes to fill, but I fell pretty confident," Alexander said prior to providing proof that she was not just willing but also able to carry the torch as she took her place in the international spotlight. First becoming individual solo champion, then about an hour-and-a-half later teaming with Mississauga-born Erin Woodley to swim to a gold medal in the duet in the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

She had continued to fill those "quite big shoes" admirably until her Atlanta silver medal swan song in 1996.

Out of the pool, Alexander was athlete representative to Synchro Canada's board of directors, active speaker on behalf of the Commonwealth Games Association; for the Ontario Government's FAME (Female Athletes Motivating Excellence) program; spokesperson for the Mississauga Hospital Foundation's "heart for Life" fundraising drive; and the Canadian Olympic Committee's Athletes' representative for the Toronto 2008 Olympic bid.

Somewhere along the way, she also managed to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Ontario.