Pamela Rai (WSWIM | Student-athlete)
NAME: Pamela Rai
SPORT: Women’s Swimming
YEARS ACTIVE: 1984-1986
Bronze at the 1984 Olympics (Canadian 4x100 relay team)
Gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games (Canadian 4x100 relay team)
5x CIAU gold medalist
1986 CIAU Female Swimmer of the Year
Pamela Rai made history many times over during her two seasons with the Victoria Vikes swimming team.
After winning gold in both the 400-metre freestyle and 100 metre butterfly at the 1985 national championships, the native of New Westminster, B.C., shattered Canada West and CIAU records en route to being named the 1986 CIAU Female Swimmer of the Year.
At the 1986 Canada West Championships, she won the 400-metre freestyle (Rai’s time: 4:22.71; previous record: 4:30.52); the 800-metre freestyle (Rai’s time: 9:01.74; previous record: 9:09.61); and the 100-metre butterfly. She then carried that momentum onto the national championships, where she won the 100-metre freestyle (Rai’s time: 57.34; previous record: 57.71), 400 metre freestyle (Rai’s time: 4:17.32; previous record: 4:20.85) and 100 metre butterfly.
Rai was recognized with UVic Female Athlete of the Year honours in both 1985 and 1986. In 2005, she became the first female swimmer inducted into the university’s sports hall of fame.
Competing internationally as a member of Canada’s 4x100 relay team, Rai found similar success. In 1983, the team captured silver at the Pan American Games in Venezuela and gold at the Hapoel Games in Israel. At the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the team finished third, reaching the podium with a new Canadian record of 4:12.98, making Rai the first woman of Indian ancestry to win an Olympic medal. The team later added gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games, winning in a Canadian and Commonwealth record-setting time of 3:48.45.
After completing her university studies and retiring from competitive swimming, Rai remained involved in the sport by coaching clubs around B.C. and in Manama, Bahrain. She is a secondary school teacher in Nanaimo, B.C., where she opened Silent Moon Yoga.
Rai is also a member of both the B.C Sports Hall of Fame (class of 1993) and B.C Swimming Hall of Fame (1998).