Parliament Hill swim team brings together MPs from 4 parties

Each week, MPs from across the political spectrum set aside their busy lives and swim a few laps — and they say if they can fit in 30 minutes of exercise, so can all Canadians.

Politicians aim to 'set an example' and promote exercise despite busy schedules

Meet the Parliamentary swim team

8 years ago
Duration 0:39
MPs from different parties and different swimming abilities join to train in the pool.

When Environment Minister Catherine McKenna jumps in the pool each Thursday morning, she's not thinking about a carbon emission policy paper or the next big climate conference.

"It's a time where I can actually just reflect. It's something that gets me ready for the day, when I swim," said McKenna, who's also the Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre.

McKenna is one of a handful of MPs from across the political spectrum who once a week trade their business suits for swim suits and dive into the pool in the basement of the Château Laurier.

Liberal MPs Catherine McKenna and Anthony Housefather are members of the Parliament Hill swim team. (CBC Ottawa)

Part of the Parliamentary Fitness Initiative, which aims to keep members of Parliament physically active, the swimming club features Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs, usually no more than seven at a time.

It also includes Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who learned how to swim through the club.

"I love swimming, so it was nice to find out that we have a parliamentary swim team that's bipartisan," said McKenna, who was the former captain of her swim team at the University of Toronto.

"It's also a great way to get to know colleagues."

Team member and Montreal MP Anthony Housefather swam competitively from the time he was eight years old until university.

He said the swim club is evidence that no one's too busy to get their daily exercise in — not even stressed-out members of Parliament.

We want toset an example, to make sure you get 30 minutes in your day when you work out.–Anthony Housefather, Liberal MP for Mount Royal

"All Canadians have packed days: getting kids ready for school, going to work, coming back and making dinner. And we want to set an example, to make sure you get 30 minutes in your day when you work out," Housefather said.

The team even has its own coach, though Tara Hahto doesn't sit in the House of Commons.

Hahto swam competitively at the NCAA-level for Boise State University and now works for Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the governing body for university sports in this country.

She's also the one urging the swimsuit-clad politicians to complete just one more lap.

"It really is just about promoting the power of sport," Hahto said of the program. "These guys are here trying to be catalysts for all Canadians."