Many of you will know of the recent death of Graham Pearson, Swimming Manager for Carlisle Aquatics, but what you may not know is the extent of Grahamís enduring passion and involvement in competitive swimming for over 50 years.
Grahamís achievements started as an age grouper in Huddersfield and ended when winning a bronze medal at the European Masters Championships held in Slovenia in September 2018. In between he competed in many, many competitions and achieved many honours.
Initially, he started swimming through his school - New College, Huddersfield in 1964. He won the Yorkshire boys 100m breaststroke at age 16 and in 1966/7 won the Yorkshire Open 100m and 200m breaststroke events. He was part of the GB under 16 squad at 200m breaststroke and swam in Berlin where he broke the British junior record in 1967.
In 1971 he went to Newcastle University to read chemistry and swam for the University and the English Universities teams. On graduation he entered the teaching profession in Newcastle. He was asked to help establish and coach at the City of Newcastle club. There was a decade or so from the early 80ís when his involvement was on the Ďback burnerí but he recommenced coaching at Tynedale (Hexham) and also started Masters swimming in the early 1990ís. He was an active member of Gateshead & Whickham ASC in the 1990ís and early 2000ís but in his swimming career he also swam for Hadrian Masters, Ren 96 (Renfrew), Carnegie, Carlisle Masters and latterly Carlisle Aquatics.
His competitive spirit took him to many venues and competitions the length and breadth of the UK but he also roamed the world!
He competed in the World Masters competitions at Sheffield in 1996, Budapest in 2000, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2002, Riccionne, Italy in 2004 and again in 2012, Stanford (San Francisco) in 2006, Gothenburg in 2010 and at the European Masters in Stockholm in 2005, Kranj (Slovenia) in 2007, Yalta in 2011, Eindhoven in 2013, London (2016) and finally in Kranj, Slovenia again in September 2018.
At the European Masters:
- he took the gold medal in the 55-59 category in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke in Kranj in 2007
- and at Eindhoven in the 60-64 category he was again 1st in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.
- he was the silver medallist at Yalta (55-59 category) and London (60-64 category) both in the 200m breaststroke and Eindhoven (60-64 category) in the 50m breaststroke;
- he was the bronze medallist at Kranj in 2007 in the 50m breaststroke and Stockholm in the 200m breaststroke in the 50-54 category.
He won medals at the World Masters:
- silver in 2002 in New Zealand in the 50-54 age category in the 200m fly,
- bronze in the 200m breaststroke 55-59 category in Gothenburg in 2010
- and bronze again in the 200m breaststroke at Riccionne in 2012 in the 60-64 category.
He held many GB records at both SC and LC;
- in the 50-54 category at 100m and 200m breaststroke;
- in the 55-59 category and the 60-64 category at 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke
- and is the current holder in the 65-69 category at 100m and 200m breaststroke at both long and short course.
His final competition was in September 2018 in Slovenia where he swam in the 65-69 age category:
- 3rd in the 100m breaststroke in 1.28.37 (7th September)
- 6th in the 50m breast in 39.67 (3rd September)
- 6th in the 200m breast in 3.21.32 (4th September)
- 11th in the 3Km open water in 53.55.5 (8th September)
He came to Carlisle in the early 2000ís and competed for Carlisle Masters and began coaching in 2011 once he retired from teaching. He was the Swimming Manager and A Squad Coach since the formation of Carlisle Aquatics. In adition he was the club secretary, registration officer and treasurer for Hadrian Masters.
He was active within Cumbria ASA; he sat on the Executive Committee representing Carlisle Aquatics; several years ago took on the task of selecting and helping to organise the team to swim at the annual National Inter County Teams event at Sheffield, and he represented Cumbria ASA on the Swim England North West masters committee. In honour of his contribution Cumbria ASA nominated him as the President-Elect for Swim England North West, and he would have been elected as President in September 2019.
Interesting fact: Graham's Swim England membership number is 1893.
Shortly before his death, Graham was made Honorary President of Cumbria ASA in recognition of his service not only to his adopted county but for his lifelong passion for competitive swimming.