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Edna Child revisits the 1938 European Champs

In August 1938, the Empire Pool in Wembley played host to the continent’s best divers, swimmers and water polo players, at the first European Aquatics Championships to be held in Britain.

East London’s Edna Child was a mere 15 year old girl at the time, and she stepped up for GB to win bronze in the women’s 3m springboard.

The Empire Pool, since demolished, played a vital role in Child’s success. Not only in 1938, but also when she made her Olympic Debut in 1948 where she finished sixth in the 3m springboard. Despite the years that have passed, the pool and the first European Championships remain memories which Child keeps alive almost eight decades later.

Lying directly below what is the show hall at the SSE Arena, Wembley, remains that pool. Child was taken back for the first time last month, with London set to host the European Championships again in May.

She said: “It [Wembley] was where I first had to come to find out what it [diving] was going to be like.

“I couldn’t believe I would get there [international level diving] for that length of time or be good enough for it.”

The 2016 European Aquatics Championships will be held in the iconic London Aquatics Centre, which hosted the aquatic events during the Olympic Games in 2012.

Edna Child’s advice

Edna, who won double gold at the 1950 Empire Games in New Zealand, was a member of Plaistow United Swimming Club in Newham. This is the same London borough in which the London Aquatics Centre sits.

She offered some advice for any young diver competing on the international scene this May:

“Don’t be overawed by anybody or anything. I know about that because I grew up being overawed by everything. I didn’t think I was any good at all.”

English divers Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree are currently making their mark on the world stage, and they won bronze in the women’s 3m synchro at their previous European Championships together three years ago.

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