When we here in British Columbia think of a club
at the B.C.
provincial or Canadian championship banquets
that wears napkins on their
heads, dye their hair green and generally behave in "sophisticated
childlike ways" (which always makes for entertaining evenings
considering all the speeches)
the Nanaimo Ebbtides Masters Swim Club
comes to mind.
Ian Burvill (far left) explores the fun and friendship mandates of Masters Swimming Canada
One of the organizers of this cool addition to banquets over the
years is Ian Burvill who has been with the Ebbtides for 25 years.
Ian Burvill was born in Scotland in 1946 and he does not wear a
Speedo under that kilt, he says. He learned how to knit in grade 3 in
Scotland and attained the coveted rank of tea cozy level.
Burvill learned how to swim at the age of 15 and joined his high
school swim team where he mastered butterfly – which he has regretted
ever since. The senior athletic champion in elementary school in
London, Ontario, he eventually moved west to Calgary to finish high
school. He started his summer lifeguarding and partying career while
trying to figure out what to do with his life. He enrolled in S.A.I.T.
and took electronics. He transferred to B.C.I.T. and took civil and
structural engineering and partied on.
At this point in his life, he graduated to “ski bum” in Rossland,
B.C. where he met Iona Belous, his wife of 32 years. He worked as a
heavy equipment operator in the old open pit mine on the back side of
Red Mountain. He decided to become an electrician at the age of 30. In
1980 he moved to Vancouver Island. Burvill worked at Malaspina College
as an electrician/maintenance foreman for five years, and joined the
Ebbtides where he was pleased to see that partying was a major
tradition in the club.
About this time, he also took up whitewater kayaking and in 1984,
the same year his son Ryan was born, went over the Englishman River
Falls to demonstrate to some Alberta paddlers that it was survivable.
That summer he also paddled the Colorado River through the Grand
Canyon. Burvill says that if anyone is ever at Long Beach, look for the
old guy in a beat up red/yellow kayak doing the surfing thing and say
In 1987, Burvill started an electrical contracting company with two
friends. Securco Services Inc. currently installs burglar alarm systems
as well as CCTV and access control. In 1995 and 1996 Profit Magazine
named Securo one of Canada's top 100 companies.
While continuing to swim, Burvill took up ocean kayaking. He tries
to do an expedition every year with his buddies. Their longest trip to
date was a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in 2003. It took 28
days and covered 1,300 kilometres. The next planned trip is to paddle
from Prince Rupert to Bella Bella as they have already done Bella Bella
to Port Hardy.
While swimming is Burvill’s main form of exercise and stress relief,
during the winter he can also be found on Mt. Washington exploring out
of bounds areas.
One year he found himself sliding downhill underneath an avalanche
where he discovered snowboards make great toboggans when your leg is
broken and the road is over two hours away. Swimming seemed to speed up
the healing as he was able to hike the Great Wall of China six weeks
This past summer, Burvill and a friend paddled the Coppermine River
in the Arctic from its source to the Arctic Ocean (about 500
kilometres) and the hamlet of Kugluktuk. The river trip took 17 days;
then they spent a week paddling off shore, exploring some of the
islands in the Coronation Gulf. The highlight was listening to the deep
rumble of a bull muskox telling them to keep their distance (20 feet)
while the rest of the herd disappeared into the stunted trees, Burvill
On the Coppermine River.
Over his 25 seasons with the Ebbtides, Burvill has spent many
workouts hiding at the back of the fast lane, but eventually he became
involved with the executive doing his bit as president. He has
participated in many national championships and competed at the 2005
World Masters Games in Edmonton.
The best times with the Ebbtides are the road trips, he says. The
green hair made its debut at the provincials in Salmon Arm and
continued onto Kelowna where he had the strenuous job of chauffeuring
six women for the weekend. He suggests that the club took the Masters’
motto "swimming for life" to a new dimension.
In 2006 Burvill was named runner-up for the Masters Athlete of the Year in Nanaimo.
So, if you would like to know more about kayaking on any type of
water, partake in advanced knitting, look for Burvill at the next meet.
He will be the one in green hair surrounded by women with a napkin on
his head. Stay with him and the party will begin and last into the wee
Ian Burvill (right) inspects the Coppermine River during his trip in the summer of 2006.