I was one of those who spent most of their teenage years, and those before, ploughing up and down a swimming pool in my bid to become an Olympic Champion. It never happened. The most I ever achieved was a couple of age group National Finals in 200m and 100m backstroke. ( my feet were always too small, was my excuse).
But I spent many hours at Easton swimming pool at silly o' clock in the morning ( breakfast in the car, drying my hair on the car heater-fan, and I kept a sleeping bag in the corner of my classroom where I'd grab a crafty few minutes of kip if I got into school early enough...) and many evenings at the old red brick Barton Hill Pool ( badly run and managed, and filthy towards latter years - with an array of nasty things spotted drifting along the bottom of the pool where Olympians were training. )
I swum first for Thornbury Swimming Club, then Southwold in Yate, then City of Bristol, with a truly brilliant swimming coach, Eric Henderson (who was APPALLINGLY treated by Bristol City Council in the mid-90s as an archive newspaper search will reveal.)
I have always said that my club swimming experience is one of the things that formed my identity as I was growing up, and has contributed so much to my life,taught me so much and given me so many lasting friends.
That is why I am so outraged and concerned that Bristol City Council is currently forcing clubs who are providing excellent beginners swimming lessons to give them up, in order that the council's private provider, SLM, can have a monopoly over beginners swimming.
I am campaigning with Portway Swimming Club to end this disastrous policy - which is bad for children, communities -and ultimately our Olympic Legacy.
Please sign our national petition
and please make sure you also sign the link to Portway's own petition, which is linked-to on the site.
And yes, I couldn't resist getting back in the water with Portway's wonderful young swimmers! Please keep their swimming lessons in-club, for them!