One of Canada’s all-time greatest swimmers, Alex Baumann was born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Canada at the age of five. He began swimming four years later and, at the age of seventeen, earned his first of 34 national titles. He earned his first major international medal, bronze in the 400 metre individual medley, at the 1979 Pan American Games, and held the world record in the 200 metre individual medley by the time he attended the 1982 Commonwealth Games, where he took home gold in the 200 and 400 m individual medleys and bronze in the 4x100 metre medley relay (with Blair Hicken, Peter Szmidt, and the non-Olympian Graham Welbourn). He also served as Canada’s flagbearer and met his future wife, swimmer Tracy Taggart, at this tournament. Chronic shoulder pain kept him out of the 1982 World Championships, but he persisted and won gold in the 200 and 400 m individual medleys at the 1983 Summer Universiade, where he was again Canada’s flagbearer. He was selected to represent Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics and attended, despite the deaths of his father and brother prior to the tournament, serving once again as his nation’s flagbearer. He became a double gold medalist by winning the 200 and 400 m individual medleys, and also finished fifth in the 4x200 m freestyle relay (alongside Szmidt, Benoit Clément, Sandy Goss, and Wayne Kelly), seventh in the 4x100 m freestyle relay (with Goss, Hicken, Dave Churchill, and Levente Mady), and seventeenth in the 200 m freestyle event.
Baumann added to his gold medal haul at the 1986 Commonwealth Games, winning the 200 and 400 m individual medleys, as well as the 4x100 m relay (with Goss, Victor Davis, Tom Ponting, Mark Tewksbury, Mike West, and the non-Olympians Claude Lamy and Darcy Wallingford). He also took silver in the 4x100 m freestyle relay alongside Goss, Hicken, and Vlastimil Cerny. His final major international medals came at the 1986 World Championships, where he earned silver and bronze in the 200 and 400 m individual relays respectively. He retired from active competition in 1987 and began working as a coach, and had a stint as a commentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the 1988 Summer Olympics. A graduate of Laurentian University, he moved to Australia in the 1990s to pursue graduate studies at the University of Queensland and became involved in the coaching and administration of swimming in the region, culminating in his appointment as CEO of Queensland Swimming in 1999. After being rejected for a vacant position on the Canadian Olympic Committee, he continued to work in Australia and, in 2012, moved to New Zealand to take on the mantle of Chief Executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand. He has also continued to swim in masters-level tournaments, setting a world record in the 200 m individual medley for the 45-49 age group in March 2009. Among numerous honors, he was named to the Order of Canada in 1984 and the Order of Ontario in 1988, won the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada’s top male athlete of 1984, was named Swimming World Magazine’s Male Swimmer of the Year in 1981 and 1984, and was inducted into Canada’s Sports (1987) and the International Swimming (1992) Halls of Fame. He reset the 200 m individual medley world record three times between 1981 and 1984 and the 400 m version twice in 1984.