WINDSOR, Ont. — The lucky loonie — and now penny — tradition continues in Windsor this week.
Underneath more than one million litres of water and the pool liner at the FINA World Swimming Championship venue sit a loonie and penny, placed there for good luck.
“I was tapped on the shoulder by one of the organizers to put the coins underneath the pool.,” said project manager Don Sadler. “I was handed a loonie and special penny and placed them underneath the pool, dead centre.”
Sadler said as he was placing the coins down he was sending his best wishes to all Canadian athletes competing in Windsor, including Toronto’s Penny Oleksiak, winner of four medals at the Rio Olympics in August.
“I was thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were some records made here,” Sadler said. “It’s a fast pool, so there’s the possibility a Canadian could make that record.”
Rink turned into pool
Normally dead centre of the pool would be right around centre ice at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. The home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires was transformed from a rink to a pool in less than a month. Sadler said they had a tight schedule and never wavered from it.
“We started on Nov. 18. There was a hockey game in here that night. We had to take the ice out. Boards to come out. Level the floor. Put the pool frame in,” he said.
Better known as the short course world championships, the meet will feature up to 1,000 of the world’s best swimmers representing 127 countries racing in front of thousands of fans.
The lucky loonie tradition started in 2002 when it was placed under centre ice of the hockey venue at the Salt Lake City Olympics by an Edmonton ice crew. Both the men’s and women’s teams for Canada won gold that year. Since then, a loonie underneath the ice — and now water — has become a part of Canadian tradition.
Lucky loonie not new to Oleksiak and Masse
Oleksiak and teammate Kyle Masse created some of their own lucky loonie magic this past summer in Rio.
Oleksiak had carried around a loonie at the Olympics and after she won gold in the 100-metre butterfly, she passed it on to Masse, who put it in her shoe for good luck.
It worked. Masse ended up tying China’s Fu Yuanhui for the bronze medal.
And if the lucky loonie and penny wasn’t enough, the loonie sitting underneath pool liner in Windsor is from 2000 — the year Oleksiak was born.