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Synchronized swimmer Sylvie Fréchette is a true Olympian, an athlete who has consistently exhibited the strength and will of the human spirit. Sylvie Fréchette has inspired Canadians with her determination and grace. Having overcome many obstacles, she has helped to raise the profile and integrity of her sport.
Sylvie Fréchette was born in 1967, in Montreal. Following her father's death when she was three years old, her mother raised her and her younger brother on her own. Sylvie Fréchette began synchronized swimming at the age of eight. At this young age she began balancing a hectic schedule of school, training and competition. As a member of the Montreal synchronized swimming club, she began working with coach Julie Sauvé and continued to train with Julie all through her athletic career. Sylvie was a member of the National Synchronized Swimming Team from 1983 to 1992 and joined again in 1995. Throughout, Sylvie Fréchette participated in countless competitions around the world, competing in solo, duet and team competitions, winning the solo World Championship and World Cup in 1991.
While Sylvie trained tirelessly for years to reach the Olympics, the months leading up to the Games proved to be a tragic period for Sylvie Fréchette and her family due to the loss of her grandfather several months before the Olympics. Then a week prior to the games, her fiancé committed suicide. Despite the overwhelming tragedy, Sylvie pursued her Olympic dream.
At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Sylvie Fréchette gave the performance of her career but an unfortunate mistake by a judge cost her the gold medal. The judge accidentally entered a score of 8.7 instead of 9.7. She recognized her error immediately but the referee refused to alter the score. American Kristen Babb-Sprague won the gold medal. After several Canadian appeals, and with the assistance of International Olympic Committee vice-president Dick Pound of Montreal, the gold medal was finally granted to Sylvie in December 1993, a full 16 months after the Olympic games in Barcelona. Dick Pound at long last presented the gold medal to Sylvie at the Forum in Montreal. Despite some criticism for making a comeback, Sylvie returned to the pool for the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta where she competed with the Canadian Synchronized Swimming Team. They won a silver medal.
Out of the pool, Sylvie Fréchette has always kept herself busy. While training for the 1992 Olympics, she completed her Bachelor of Physical Education degree at Université de Montréal. In 1993, Sylvie published her autobiography Sylvie Fréchette: sans fausse note, which has been translated into English (Gold at Last). Along with numerous other projects, she is also an active spokesperson for the National Bank. Currently, Sylvie Fréchette is working with the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil on their "O" show in Las Vegas as a performer, choreographer and coach.
In addition to her competition victories, Sylvie Fréchette has won many awards for her contribution to Canadian Sport. She was voted Quebec athlete of the year both in 1992 and 1993. There has also been an award created in her name by the Canadian Sports Federation, presented to athletes who overcome great difficulties to triumph in their sport. In 1999, Sylvie Fréchette was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Chartrand, Luc. - "La sirène des Olympiques". - L'actualité. - Vol. 17, no 12 (août 1992). - P. 24-28
Chatelaine presents Who's Who of Canadian women. - Toronto : Who's Who Publications, c1998. - P. 325
Fréchette, Sylvie. - Gold at last. - Toronto : Stoddart, c1994. - 157 p.
Fréchette, Sylvie. - Sylvie Fréchette : sans fausse note. - Montréal : Éditions de l'Homme, c1993. - 165 p.
Life & times of Sylvie Fréchette : against all odds [online]. - CBC Canada, 2000. - [Réf. du 13 juin 2000]. - Access : www.cbc.ca/lifeandtimes/frechette.html