Olympic swimming coach says education key to further successBy Jonathan Low
August 31, 2012
The father of Olympic 200m breaststroke finalist Andrew Willis says the key to continuing Team GB’s success will be through educating children in schools.
Nigel Willis, 53, chief coach at Bracknell and Wokingham Swimming Club since 2007, explained the club aims to target schools in the new academic year.
He said: “We need to try and reach out to schools more, and in the school areas.
“There has been a big interest in the club following the Olympics, and we’ve had a number of enquiries from children aged five upwards. We don’t start back until Monday and then we’ll be holding whole sessions for newcomers.”
The club, which meets at Bracknell Leisure Centre, has more than 350 members, is self-funding and does not have grants to support it financially.
Although funding is not a major problem, Nigel said it would be beneficial to have additional resources.
“It would be good to get some kind of support or funding from local companies,” he said.
“But we also need coaches and we could really do with more pool time.”
Nigel also described the time spent watching son Andrew, a member of the club, competing at the Aquatics Centre during the London 2012 Games.
He said: “It was horrendous but very enjoyable. It was an amazing, life-changing experience for him. It’s second-to-none, he won’t have a home Olympics again.”
Andrew, who finished eighth in the Olympic final, continues a fine, family swimming tradition, with dad Nigel and mum Karen both competitive swimmers, and sister Kathryn who competed in the Olympic trials.
Nigel had some words of advice for aspiring sportsmen and women. He said: “If you want to get somewhere and make the Olympic Games then go for it.
“There are plenty of opportunities out there and with the right support from clubs and parents we hope the success continues.”
Hundreds of fellow club members turned out to the leisure centre in Bagshot Road to cheer on Andrew when he competed in the 200m men’s breaststroke final on Wednesday, August 1. The race was won by Hungarian Daniel Gyurta, who finished first ahead of Willis in the semi-final, and set a new world record in the final.
Andrew’s Team GB team-mate Michael Jamieson landed silver and set his third British record in three swims.
It was the 21-year-old’s first Games and he has said he is already looking ahead to the next Olympics Rio de Janiero in 2016.
The club is holding a open evening for new members on Tuesday, September 11, at the leisure centre from 7pm.