BLACKPOOL swimming coach Debi Gore is really looking forward to the Olympic Games next year as people clamour to get tickets for the big event.
She is especially looking forward to the swimming.
When the 43-year-old watches competitors dive into the water in a culmination of years of training, she will know just how they feel.
Debi, from Marton, was a member of the GB freestyle relay team at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 - the fastest member of a team which finished in sixth place.
She also earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records 1985-87, breaking the British Record for 100m freestyle for a team of four.
And since retiring from competition, she has taught hundreds of youngsters to swim at the school she founded and runs with husband Gary Cousins, the Olympian School of Swimming in Bennetts Lane, Marton.
Debi - who has awards from the Amateur Swimming Association for her commitment to inspiring a new generation of youngsters to take to the water - said: “It’s great to have the Olympics coming to the UK.
“It’s really exciting. I didn’t apply for tickets because of the sheer cost of going to London, staying in a hotel and so on. But I will certainly been watching it on TV, especially the swimming.
“It certainly will bring back memories for me. Taking part in the Olympics does sort of feel like it happened to someone else now.
“I was only 16 when I went, and although obviously I can remember it, it’s quite hazy. I remember it being the most amazing experience and I loved every minute.
“I do like watching it on TV, I love to see the commentators - some of whom I know, like Sharon Davies.”
Debi hopes the excitement surrounding London 2012 will help promote exercise and activity among the general population and local people and get more residents moving.
“I hope the Games will have that effect of getting people excited about and interested in sport and wanting to take part in more activity.
“I think as a nation, we do need to start getting off our backsides more and do more exercise.
“It’s not about people necessarily being competitive with sport, it’s just about becoming fitter and leading a healthy lifestyle.
“Swimming of course is brilliant exercise. It’s fun, it’s suitable for everybody - all ages, all fitness levels, all body sizes - so overweight people can swim.
“There’s no impact on the joints, you can take it at your own level, it’s a work-out for the whole body.
“It really is fantastic to get you fit and keep you fit. I still swim to keep me in shape. I don’t like running, I don’t like going to the gym. But I love swimming.”
Debi is still so passionate about swimming, she teaches everyone from babies to old age pensioners at her swimming school with Gary.
“The youngest we’ve had was a baby of four months, and I once taught a lady of 86 to swim.
“Some older people never learned to swim, but want to once they become grandparents so they can take their grandchildren to the pool and join in. And learning to swim is such an important skill, especially as we live by the sea.
“Not only could it save your life, it could save someone’s else’s life and can help keep you fit and can be an activity the whole family can do and have fun.”
Debi is really committed to helping youngsters learn to swim - something she thinks all children should do - and has introduced a new sticker system to encourage the little ones to practice outside of lessons.
“Half an hour lesson a week won’t be enough really to see big improvements, so we encourage the children, and parents, to swim outside of classes.
“We haven’t had any Olympic stars just yet - but we did have a lad who went on to get a world record for under 15s triathlon, which was amazing.
“So we are just hoping we will one day train one of the Olympic stars of the future.”
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