Full article (pdf) ” Anne’s Life in the Pools and on the Boards”
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Swimming Times – Memory Lane back to my childhood
Swimming Times Extract – Swimming and diving former champion Anne Green Jessel recalls her eventful life in the pool and on the boards.
“I was born into a swimming family, the last girl to arrive, my older sisters eight, 14 and 16 years away from me. Poor Dad was hoping for a boy but it wasn’t to be.
Mum and Dad were busy members of West Bromwich Swimming Club, sitting on committees and officiating at galas and eventually becoming life members. My sisters were already Midland and club swimming champions. Dad had an ambition that one of my sisters would get swimming the Channel but, by desire or design, this never happened.
One day, when I was toddling around, I was scooped up into the car and driven to the West Bromwich Gala Baths. I remember being carried into this big building and suddenly faced with a huge bath of blue water. From that d ay on, after my first introduction in the arms of my big teaching Sis, I was taken frequently and got used to the swimming idea. I couldn’t stand up to paddle nor could I swim so I had to rely on my teaching Sis and her boyfriend carrying me around, dousing me up and down in the huge swimming bath.
After a while, I found myself in a swimming harness being carried up and down the bath by someone who, to me, was a very old lady with a loud mouth. I didn’t like it.
At the galas, I watched my sisters swimming to victory and picking up trophies, their beaux playing water polo, Mum and Dad at opposite ends of the pool with stop watches. Between the galas I was taken to another big pool, but this time it was under a blue sky – the Kingfisher Lido near Kingswinford.
I remember those lovely swimming weekends, playing in the fountains during what seemed to be persistently lovely summers.
It had a higher-up camping field and my soon-to-be brother-in-law took his youth squad on camping trips for treats. My sisters and I joined them. It was wonderful.
They apparently thought nothing of me wandering into the shallow end of the swimming pool, where I could stand up and tried – oh so tried – to get my feet off the bottom. The old lady hadn’t been a great success with me over the last year. I was about five then.
Eventually, I could swim a little and retrieve myself after jumping in. It became the practice to move me slowly into the deeper water. with assistance, the goal being that they could plant me on the pooldeck midway down the length of the bath, stand on the opposite side and beckon me to jump in and swim across.
I didn’t like the idea much and they often had to patiently await my effort, offering swimming bribes of lovely milkshakes on the way home. That usually did the trick and, with a struggle, I made it to the other side. However, on one occasion, I vividly remember almost reaching the other side but then starting to sink.
Down I went, waiting to touch the bottom when I could give a good push up, but as I was making these plans, a body splashed down to my side, and my sister hoisted me up.
Amazingly I hadn’t panicked, and surprisingly wanted to do it again straight after – then perhaps I’d get two swimming milkshakes?…and I did.”
To read the FULL article about Anne’s swimming and diving achievements as she grew up, you could click here to buy the January 2015 issue, or any issue of the Swimming Times…!
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