Sandra Robert’s contribution to Saskatchewan’s synchronized swimming programs is immeasurable. Beginning in the 1950’s as an athlete, she played a vital role in the province, the country and throughout the world also as a coach, judge and administrator. In 1957, Sandy was a member of the first-ever Saskatchewan team to compete at a national championship. Coached by her grandmother Sadie Caulder, the team placed third, only 1.2 points behind winning team from Quebec City. Sandra then turned her focus to what would become a 21 year coaching career. Under her guidance, many teams and athletes became provincial champions. Over her years as a coach, Sandra coached in Regina, Saskatoon and Swift Current.
Sandra began judging locally in 1968 and by the next year had attained a National Level IV rating. She judged at the Canadian National Synchronized Swimming Championships for 37 years from 1968 to 2005. She became an international judge in 1978 and received her initial FINA accreditation in 1985. In 1988, she received the FINA ‘A’ rating, and later became a ‘judge’s judge’ when she began evaluating judges in addition to offering judging clinics all over the world. Sandra’s international resume is extensive: 4 Swiss Opens, 5 Pan American Games, 1 Commonwealth Games, 9 World Cups, 9 World Championships, 4 Olympic Qualifiers, 4 Olympic Games, as well as more than 30 other international competitions. In 2001, the Coaching Association of Canada presented her with the Fox 40 Female Official of the Year Award.
Sandra held a variety of posts in Synchro Saskatchewan including president, treasurer, secretary, technical chair, and was responsible for developing and submitting our ‘Sask First’ proposal to Sask Sport, Inc. the first year this program was initiated. For a number of years, Sandra chaired our Sask First Management Committee. Sandra was also nominated by Synchro Sask and elected to the Sask Sport Board of Directors for which she served for three years from 1980 to 1983, two of these years as Vice-President Program. Nationally, she has served on Synchro Canada’s Board of Directors and chaired or acted on numerous national synchro committees including those that concentrate on coaching development, national team management, competition, judges development and international affairs. She revised the Star Program and wrote a basic coaching manual to accompany it that sold in 30 countries around the world in English, French and Spanish.
Internationally, Sandra worked on the ASUA [Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas] Technical Synchro Committee from 1987 to 2003 and the FINA [Federation International de Natacions Aquatic] Technical Synchro Committee from 1988 to 2000. She represented Synchro Canada at the FINA League of European National Aquatic Conferences in 1987 and 1988. At the request of the FINA Technical Committee, she worked together with representatives from Japan and the United States to produce an international judging manual still used today. In 1995, she developed and produced the first Figure/Technical Routine video for FINA. Sandra was recognized by the World FINA International Organization for her merit, dedication and contribution to synchro on July 23, 2005 when she was presented with the FINA Gold Pin Award.
After approximately 50 years of involvement with synchronized swimming, Sandra retired at the end of the 2004/05 season. She was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on June 20, 1992. The current team of International officials in Canada (speaking also for many from the past) pass along these comments; “Sandy has not just done the work of a judge or contributed to the development of the sport in Saskatchewan, in Canada and around the world but also been an awesome role model and mentor. We have always been able to count on Sandy to 'tell it like it is' and share her unique sense of humour with us as well. Her commitment to the sport of synchronized swimming is legendary!”
In 2009, Synchro Saskatchewan renamed the National Stream Provincials, the Sandra Roberts National Stream Provincials in her honor.