Pam Rai took up swimming at the age of six and came under the tutelage of three-time Olympian Ron Jacks three years later. By 1980 she was skilled enough to qualify for that year’s Summer Olympics, but stayed at home after Canada joined the boycott of those Games. After several years of success on the international scene, she won one of her most important medals, silver in the 4x100 metre freestyle relay, at the 1983 Pan American Games. Her next stop was the 1984 Summer Olympics, where she captured bronze in the 4x100 m medley relay (with Reema Abdo, Michelle MacPherson, and Anne Ottenbrite) and placed fifth in the 4x100 m freestyle relay (alongside Jane Kerr, Carol Klimpel, Cheryl McArton, and Maureen New) and twelfth in the 100 metre freestyle event.
Rai entered the University of Victoria in 1984, for which she would set five national university records and be named 1985 Canadian University Swimmer of the Year. She remained active on the international scene, earning silver in the 4x100 m freestyle relay at the 1985 Pan Pacific Championships and gold in the same event at the 1986 Commonwealth Games (with Kerr, Patricia Noall, and Andrea Nugent), the latter of which was won with a national and Commonwealth record. After failing to medal at that year’s World Championships, she retired from active competition to complete her schooling. She has been inducted into the British Columbia Sports, University of Victoria Vikes, and British Columbia Swimming Halls of Fame.