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Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi to take personal leave of absence

‘The board has complete confidence in the management team that Ahmed has built’
Swimming Canada says chief executive officer Ahmed El-Awadi will be taking a personal leave of absence starting Monday. El-Awadi holds a news conference in Ottawa on September 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Swimming Canada chief executive officer Ahmed El-Awadi will take a personal leave of absence starting Monday, the organization said.

Suzanne Paulins, director of operations and sport development, has been appointed acting CEO.

Swimming Canada’s board of directors made the announcement to staff and key partners Thursday, the organization said in a release.

“We are very supportive of Ahmed and his leave,” said Swimming Canada president Mary C. Lyne. “The board has complete confidence in the management team that Ahmed has built.

“Suzanne and the team are well positioned to continue to implement and support the strategic plan and goals of the organization, and manage the day-to-day operations.”

The announcement came just over a year out from the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Canada has emerged as a swimming power in recent years and is expected to contend for medals in several disciplines in Paris.

El-Awadi has been CEO since 2013. Swimming Canada didn’t provide information on the length of his leave.

“Suzanne and the rest of our exceptional senior leadership team and staff will continue to execute our strategy and operational plans as we prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” El-Awadi said in a statement. “Suzanne has my every confidence, and she will lead this organization without missing a beat.”

Paulins joined Swimming Canada’s staff in 2017 and became a director in 2021. She’d previously spent 20 years with the Bank of Montreal.

“We have a strong strategic plan, and a leadership team in place that will carry on with what Ahmed has built,” Paulins said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Swimming Canada board of directors, the senior leadership team and all staff over the coming months in moving all projects and strategies forward.”

Paulins has been involved in swimming for over 45 years. She has served as a master official, FINA list referee and technical official at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

She will work with partners Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, and provincial sections, Swimming Canada said.

The Canadian Press

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