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'Sad but fitting tribute' as Graham Pearson named Cherriman Award winner

Carlisle master Graham Pearson has been posthumously honoured after being named as the winner of the 2018 Cherriman Award.

Graham died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer in October 2018, only 36 days after winning a bronze medal in the 65 Years 100m Breaststroke at the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia. He was 65.

It is the first time in its 26-year history that the Cherriman Award has been presented posthumously.

But Verity Dobbie, former chairperson of the Home Countries Masters Swimming Management Group, said it was a ‘sad but fitting tribute’.

She added: “Quite simply Graham was the embodiment of ‘swim for life’.

“He was a great ambassador for masters swimming and it is sad but fitting that his contribution to our sport is recognised.”

Graham’s early days in swimming through New College, Huddersfield, led to a place in the 1967 U16 Great Britain Squad, where he set a new British Junior record in the 200m Breaststroke.

He swam for Newcastle University in the early 1970s and, once qualified and working in the teaching profession in Newcastle, became involved as a coach at the City of Newcastle Swimming Club.

As his career brought changes of scenery, he continued to contribute to swimming with a spell of coaching at Tynedale (Hexham) Club, at which point he embarked on his masters swimming career.

As an active member of Gateshead and Whickham ASC in the 1990s, he was involved in establishing Hadrian Masters.

Arriving at Carlisle, he was to take up coaching responsibilities in 2011 and, after retiring from teaching, also stepped into the swimming manager/squad coach/club secretary role.

Ferociously competitive

He was active within Cumbria ASC Executive Committee and Swim England NW Committee, being President elect in 2018.

Graham was also the Cumbria Masters representative, and played a leading role in introducing the popular Carlisle Masters Meet.

Verity added: “Ferociously competitive, Graham was an almost permanent fixture at the major international meets over the last 20 years.

“His medal haul at each successive European or World Masters meet appeared to increase as he advanced through the age groups, being particularly successful when he hit the 55-59 and 60-64 years age group.

“Although a breaststroker, collecting major championship titles, medals and British and European records along the way, Graham memorably won a silver medal in the 200m Butterfly at the 2002 World Championships in New Zealand with a particularly gutsy swim, running down the opposition in the last 50 metres.

“As well as his enviable swimming record, there was so much more to Graham. He will be remembered for his openness, interest in others and not taking himself too seriously.

“What was striking was the quality of the relationships he had with his direct competitors, based on the hour or so each year he spent with them in the call room at international meets.

“He had a fabulous capacity to foster enduring friendships across the entire masters spectrum and was always happy to share a joke, a smile and a supportive word with anyone on the poolside.

“Graham will be sorely missed by his close swimming friends.”

  • The Vivienne and Leonard Cherriman Award is an annual award, presented by the Home countries Masters Swimming Management Group to ‘the person or organisation who or which has done the most to promote and foster the cause of Masters swimming in Great Britain’