April 21, 1980, Roman Baumann died by jumping off Niagara Falls.

5:30 am: Ottawa University Swimming Pool. After many phone calls and emails I finally meet Alex at the pool before a workout. As soon as I was on deck I could hear his unmistakable voice and when I approached him the tattoo that started the National Team tradition stood out like a medal of honour.

Our introduction was as comfortable as our phone conversations. Alex had told me that he took up Master Swimming because he had to be at the pool anyway while his son Ashton (16) did his workouts with the Ottawa Kingfishers (in the same pool, at the other end). “He’s the tall, lanky guy down there,” Alex says as he jumps in the water. Although this is one of the darkest pools I have ever seen, who was I to complain. I was photographing Alex Baumann, the guy who broke two world records, got two gold medals, the first of which was the first for Canada in 72 years and was the flag bearer for Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles…and this was achieved four years after his brother, Roman, died by suicide.

Alex Baumann

Alex Baumann


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