Isadore Sponder's legacy swims on

Posted by Michelle Cuthbert on Monday, September 24th, 2018

At the meeting of City Council on Monday, September 24, 2018, Jessica Cizmar, a member of the Port Colborne Piranha’s swim team, was presented with the Isadore Sponder Memorial Trophy.

The Isadore Sponder Memorial Trophy was introduced in 2017 to be presented annually to a member of the Port Colborne Swim Team to honour Isadore, a decorated marathon swimmer from Port Colborne. The recipient is to mirror the traits Isadore possessed in the water – a competitive spirit, dedicated to the sport, and always giving 110% win or lose.  Jessica embodies these qualities as a member of the Piranhas swim team and participant in the Swim Stroke Improvement classes for the past two years.

With Jessica’s help, the summer of 2018 was a successful year for the Port Colborne Swim Team. Port Colborne is one of ten registered teams in the Niagara Regional Summer Swim League that includes Brock University, Dunnville, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St.Catharines and Welland.  In addition to practices twice weekly at the Vale Health & Wellness Centre, the Piranhas competed in swim meets throughout the Niagara Region on Saturdays. The competitive swimming strokes included medley relay, backstroke, butterfly, individual medley, breathstroke, freestyle and freestyle relay.

The following swimmers achieved the highest points for their respective age categories:

Six and under girls: Sophia Benito

Seven and eight year old girls: Madison Lee

Seven and eight year old boys: Quinn Rungi-Ruston

Nine and 10 year old girls: Tessa Blagdon

Nine and 10 year old boys: William Laur

11 and 12 year old girls: Jessica Cizmar

11 and 12 year old boys: Mathew Lee

13 and 14 year old girls: Emma Laur

For the second consecutive year, the Port Colborne Piranhas were also the winning team at the Regional final meet held at Brock University. In addition, four members of the Piranhas also received the Highest Point’s award. Congratulations to:

Alexis Fredrich (seven and eight year old girls)

Quinn Rungi-Ruston (seven and eight year old boys)

William Laur (nine and 10 year old boys)

Emma Laur (13 and 14 year old girls)

Training for the next Piranhas season begins on Friday, October 5 with the next session of Swim Stroke Improvement. Running for 10 weeks from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. at the Vale Health & Wellness Centre, this program is aimed at swimmers ages 4-14 who are ready to focus on the competitive level of swimming. There is also a winter session beginning Friday, January 11, 2019.  For the full list of all recreation programs offered in the fall 2018 and winter of 2019 view the Leisure Guide online at , or, pick up a copy at a City facility.


About Isadore Sponder Growing up in Port Colborne, Isadore Sponder began swimming at the age of 15 in either Lake Erie or the Welland Canal or both, as most children of his age did. Between 1927 – 1933, Isadore competed against such noted swimming greats as Marvin Nelson and Gianni Gambi. During the era when the Canadian National Exhibit Marathon Swim was one of the Premier World Marathons, Isadore finished in the top three, four times. He passed away in December of 1986 at the age of 74. In 1993, the Sponder Family dedicated the Centennial Pool Lift for handicapped swimmers to the citizens of Port Colborne. With the decommissioning of Centennial Pool and building of Vale Health & Wellness Centre the city, alongside Isadore’s Family, wanted to ensure his memory lived on in Port Colborne. In addition to his name on the Donor Wall at the Vale Health & Wellness Centre, the City has created the Isadore Sponder Memorial Trophy to be presented annually to a member of the Port Colborne Piranhas Swim Team.

Photographed left to right: Jen Laur (Port Colbonre Piranhas Swim Team Instructor/ Coach), Jessica Cizmar (2018 recipient of Isadore Sponder Memorial Trophy), Fred Horvath (Isadore Sponder's nephew), and Mayor John Maloney.


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