Dennis Pursley

September 2011

Great Britain’s head swimming coach Dennis Pursley reveals the tragedy that befell his own age group coach and why he would like to change the sport’s culture of ‘instant gratification’. 

Nobody knows this but…

I had an interesting experience in 1964 when I swam in the US Olympic trials – I was one of two 14-year-old boys in that competition with Mark Spitz. The World's Fair was on in New York and it was also The Beatles’ first visit to the US.

We had to take a detour because the streets were clogged with thousands of girls trying to get a glimpse of them in their hotel room. I went past in my taxi and was one of the few that got one of those first glimpses.

For a 14-year-old boy, it was a big moment. It was also the first time I had been to New York. Our coach didn’t have enough money for a hotel room so he put us in a hotel while he slept on the locker-room floor at the pool.

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