Rising From The Ashes

Senior Constable Richard Howitt
Competes in the 2022 CAN-AM Police Fire Games

Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by Todd Ternovan

The City of Windsor hosts the 2022 CAN-AM Police Fire Games July 25 to 31. Venues around the city will be site of events, which include basketball, bowling, cycling, darts, golf, half-
marathon, ice hockey, slow pitch softball and submission grappling, to name a few. 

“These events will take place at Malden Park, St. Clair College, WFCU Centre, the University of Windsor and Mic Mac Park, among other locations,” says the event’s general manager, Jan Wilson. “There is no charge for spectators to attend.”

The Games began in 1977 and are held every two years. They were first organized to promote physical fitness and camaraderie among emergency and protective services personnel and their agencies. 

“The opening ceremony will happen on Tuesday, July 26, at the Riverfront Festival Plaza,” Jan continues. “The event will feature Taste of Windsor food, live entertainment, and fireworks.” 

Windsor Police Senior Constable Richard Howitt. Photo by John Liviero, Sooters Photography.

One local resident who is competing in the Games is Windsor Police Senior Constable, Richard Howitt, who is entered in several swimming events. That was his sport in his youth, swimming for the Windsor Aquatic Club and Walkerville high school. At first glance, it is not particularly noteworthy that a former swimmer is venturing back into the pool. When one considers, however, that Richard is fifty-seven years old, a twenty-eight year veteran of the Windsor Police Service, and is registered to compete in five swimming events—all in the same day: 50 meter freestyle front crawl, 50 meter back stroke, 100 meter freestyle front crawl, 100 meter back, and 200 meter freestyle. This, only two years after a second knee surgery and feeling generally dispirited about the state of his physical conditioning.

These swimming events are part of a larger, more personal narrative. 

In 2010, Richard underwent his first knee replacement. When he returned to work, he went on light duty, but his knee continued to bother him, making exercise or any activity, painful and cumbersome. As his physical activity decreased, a cycle of poor diet choices saw his weight climb to an all-time high of two hundred thirty pounds. 

“When I was active, I could get away with poor diet choices, but when it became my routine, I gained weight,” Richard observes.

The knee operation that was supposed to fix his leg left him limping and in constant pain following each shift. By 2019, things still didn’t seem right, but he managed to whittle his weight down to two hundred five pounds. His sore knee continued to plague him, and he was unhappy with his level of fitness.

“Following the second knee replacement surgery in 2019, my motivation to get in shape started with the thought: ‘If I can make my leg stronger so that it holds the knee, maybe lose some weight, I wonder if some of my knee pain would go away?’”

He continues: “I called the Human Resources department at Windsor Police and asked what I weighed when I joined the service.”

The answer was: one hundred eighty-five pounds.

“That became my target weight.” 

And so began an esoteric regimen of “body hacking” that Richard undertook with a variety of health resources. These included seeing a chiropractor.

“I asked them to test me to see which foods I should be eating, and which ones I should avoid,” Richard says.

The results jibed with his other research: cut sugar and flour. 

As he perfected his workout routine, Richard cut sugar and flour, and switched to a keto diet, which he augmented with intermittent fasting. He also turned to “red light therapy.” 

“I came across an interesting problem NASA was studying,” Richard explains. “If you cut yourself in space, it won’t heal. Wounds require gravity to heal. At the same time, NASA was experimenting with growing plants in space using different frequencies of light: red light, near-infrared, etc. They found that any astronaut working around a red light healed while in space. Our bodies naturally have all of these photo receptors.” 

The red light is said to promote healing, so Richard bounces back faster from his workouts. It also helps with the fat burning process.

The Internet can be a morass of conflicting information, and it seems that every day a new article comes out advocating some new diet or therapy or debunking an established diet or therapy. The fact is, six months after Richard embarked on his body hacking odyssey, he reached one hundred eighty-five pounds. The program he created for himself worked.

“After hitting one-eighty-five,” he says, “I had to set new goals.” 

He is currently a lean and mean one hundred sixty-eight pounds.

“I got back into swimming at the Vollmer Centre, but switched to the new Aquatic Centre, downtown,” Richard says. “That moved the needle. I felt like a swimmer again.”

He goes on to say that he set himself four goals: “I want people to consider me ‘cut’—whatever that might mean. Get to where I can do one hundred push-ups in a row—my current personal best is eighty-eight. Want to do sixty dips. I’m now up to seventy-five. And I want to do a fifty-metre free style in thirty seconds. Right now, I’m at thirty-three seconds.”

So, when Richard saw that Windsor was the host city of the 2022 CAN-AM Police Fire Games, he went on the website to look at the swimming events. He doesn’t feel that he’s taking on too much by entering five of them all in the same day.

“I’ll be racing against men my age,” Richard points out. “I’m racing against myself, anyhow. Typically, swimmers slow in the second half of their race. My goal is to have a negative split race: to swim equal to, or faster, than the first half.”

Richard was nineteen years old the last time he swam competitively.

His events take place on July 27th at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre, in downtown Windsor. 

To see a full list of events, visit Volunteers are needed. Anyone interested in volunteering can find more information at  

Windsor Life Magazine does not endorse any type of dietary regimen. Please consult with a medical professional before beginning any program.