For someone who has spent nearly all of her life involved in diving, Bev Boys’ entry into the competitive sport was somewhat curious.
It all started because she wanted to go for a ride in a car.
Boys, 62, grew up in Pickering, Ont. on a 60-acre farm with a backyard pool hand-dug by her father. As a youngster, she began taking diving lessons alongside a neighbour, Barb, who was a few years older.
“There was a guy in town who taught us cannonballs and all sorts of things,” Boys explained. “We had a little pool in town and we’d go at 8 a.m. and stay there all day.”
As Barb advanced in the pool, she began taking diving lessons in Toronto and her father would drive her into the big city a few times a week. One day, Boys asked if she could tag along.
After her first trip into Toronto, the diving coach there asked Boys if she’d like to participate. The next trip in, she brought her bathing suit.
“My family only had one car, and it was never home – my dad always took it to work,” she said last week, sitting in the office of White Rock Gymnastics and Diving.
And even though she enjoyed the new sport, it still paled in comparison to being able to stare idly out the window during the 40-kilometre drive there and back.
“It had nothing to do with diving. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less. I had no aspirations to do any of that stuff, and I don’t think I even think I knew that the Olympics existed,” Boys said.
“I wasn’t one of those athletes who saw something for the first time and said, ‘Wow, I want to do this.’ I just wanted to go in the car.”
While Barb quit diving once she got to high school, Boys’ love for it grew, as did her skill, to the point where she is now among the country’s most decorated divers.
Boys, who has two grown daughters and lives in Crescent Beach with her husband, Steve, along with their border collie – is a three-time Olympian and multiple-time national champion. She has three Pan-Am Games medals and seven Commonwealth Games medals – three of them gold.
She’s also in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and has been an Olympic judge four times.
While she’s been recognized through the years not only for her diving prowess, but also her coaching expertise – she is the founder of White Rock Divers – this month, Boys was honored by Sports Officials Canada, which oversees referees, judges and other officials in all sports.
At a gala in Ottawa, Boys was named SOC’s official of the year and inducted into the association’s hall of fame.
“It was very cool.” she said.
The award comes at a time in Boys’ career where she’s decided to slow down – if only slightly. In addition to her role as manager/founder of White Rock Divers and international diving judge, she is also a technical director with BC Diving, and oversees the White Rock Gymnastics and Diving Club in South Surrey, which runs all types of programs in addition to providing a dry-land training area for her divers.
“About three months ago, I was here all day, every day,” she explained. “But eventually I had to step back a bit. Everyone always told me I couldn’t keep doing all this, and they were right.”
In the last year, Boys has battled bronchitis, vertigo and had knee surgery.
“I’m getting older and I got sick. Nothing had ever been wrong with me until now, at 62. But I’m good now.”
In an effort to slow her pace down, she moved her office from the gym – where “you get in here and sometimes don’t get out until eight o’clock at night” – to her house. And though she admits to being easily distracted at home – by laundry or vacuuming or taking the dog for a walk – the arrangement has worked out well.
For one, she enjoys being able to spend time in her Crescent Beach cabin, which she jokingly refers to as “crappy, just awful” but loves nonetheless.
“It’s got no insulation, no double-glazed windows, it’s just an awful place, but it’s just so cute,” she laughed.
“And our yard is fantastic and I love it. Just the other day I was out clipping about a million branches, so I do other things, too, other than diving.”
She’ll never completely slow down, however. Boys even expects that in the coming diving season she will have more time than usual to coach her young divers, which is where she says her true passion lies.
“I still love it as much as I ever have. I have a passion for it that isn’t going away. My husband and I, we joke about being married and he says, ‘Oh, you’re not married to me, you’re married to diving.’ And I guess I am,” she said.
“People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re still doing it?’ Well, what else do you want me to do? This is my life. This is what I do.”