Sporting Heroes - Swimming & Water Sports
Swimming, Diving and Water sports
Hatfield's first public swimming pool was at Mill Green, where part of the river was widened to make a simple bathing area in the 1920s. Not until 1966, when the present swimming pool was opened at the junction of Lemsford Road and Cavendish Way, did the town have a pool built to modern standards. A wholesale renovation and refurbishment was completed in 1991 provided improved fitness facilities and a modern swim centre. Hatfield Swimming Pool was opened by the sixth Marquess of Exeter himself a former Olympic athlete and Vice President of the International Olympic Committee (1954-66) on September 1966. The Hatfield Swimming Club was also formed around this time. In the 1970s the club won all the Southern Counties male section trophies. Kevin Lee, Julian Bott, Mark Pickering and Gillian MacLaurin represented England and Wales at International level. Hatfield Club swimmers won 17 gold medals in the 1976 Southern Counties Championships and won the Champion Club of Hertfordshire for the third year in succession. The main pool, which was 110ft long, was closed again for refurbishment in Nov 1989, re-opening in April 1991 as Hatfield Swim Centre.
Neil Willey who lives in Brookman's Park competed in the 100m backstroke at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
More recent local swimming success has come from Adam Brown, who completed in the 4×100m freestyle swimming relay at the Beijing Olympics, with the team coming eighth overall. In the London 2012 Olympics Adam competed in the 50m and 100m freestyle swimming events as a solo swimmer, but unfortunately did not make it beyond the heats. He was also part of the Team GB 4x 100m medley relay team, which came 4th overall. Adam's split time of 48.22s was a big improvement upon his earlier individual swim time and underlined his importance as an anchorman for the relay team.
Richard Charlesworth represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 1500m freestyle swimming. Caleb Hughes a 15-year old member of Hatfield Swimming Club is setting his sights on the 2012 Olympics. After a medal-laden season the Hatfield Swimmer believes he has a chance to shine. At the UK School Games in September held in Sheffield he left clutching 4 medals, 1,500m, 4x 100m freestyle relay member and 4 x 200m freestyle relay and 200m medley silver. At July's ASA National Youth Championships he claimed 6 medals with gold coming in the 1,750m open water, 400m and 1,500m freestyle.
The Beaumont Diving Academy was originally founded at Stevenage Pool, in March 1968, with the aim of improving the diving skills of youngsters in Hertfordshire. Many of its members have competed at international level. Robin Baskerville competed in the high-board diving at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Chris Wallis and Frank Dufficy competed in diving events in the 1972 Munich Olympics and Derek Beaumont who established the club, was a GB diving judge at the 1976 Olympics. In January 1978 the club was moved to Hatfield. In 1978, the Academy placed four of its members in the Commonwealth Games Team. Alison Drake won the European One metre Springboard Championship in Paris and the club's success continued, as in 1979 the club won the George Melville Clark Trophy as the best Male diving club in England. However, the club's highlight year was 1980, when four of its members (including Martyn Brown, Marion Saunders, Alison Drake) represented Great Britain in the Olympics. Since the formation of the Academy the Club has produced many national champions and medallists but its principal level of achievement is having had eight of its members represent Great Britain in five consecutive Olympic games. Nigel Stanton competed in the springboard diving event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Today the Academy continues to offer high quality coaching from novice through to International standards.
Ben Swain, a former pupil of Monk's Walk School, represented Great Britain in the diving at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Men's Springboard Synchronised event. He undertook his initial diving training with the Beaumont Diving Academy. Another member of the Beaumont Academy, Hayley Sage (nee Saunders) competed in the 3m springboard synchronized diving also at the 2008 games.
Hayley's father, Chris Sage was the only GB Diving judge at the London 2012 Olympics. He has been a coach at Beaumont Diving Academy, based at the Hatfield pool for 16 years.
Local success in other water sports has come from Reg Potter was captain of the Great Britain Water Polo Team at the Olympic Games held in London in 1948. He was also Manager of the Lea Valley Swimming Pool at Stanborough for many years. Eloise Meakins, who attends Queenswood School, is a current member of the GB Canoe Polo Team.
This page was last updated on 08/08/2012