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Sharron Davies: 'Hall of Fame recognises those that give their lives to the sport'

Ahead of the Swim England Hall of Fame nominations closing on Monday, 2019 inductee Sharron Davies encourages people to nominate those that ‘give their lives to the sport’.

The Swim England Hall of Fame was set up as part of the national governing body’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

A total of 26 people, including Davies, were named in the inaugural induction and this is the first time since then that a new cohort will be included.

A panel of representatives from all disciplines will review the submissions and determine those to be inducted during the Swim England National Awards, at the Great Hall, University of Birmingham, on Saturday 26 November.

They will be looking at how nominees have gone above and beyond in their contribution to swimming, para-swimming, artistic swimming, diving, open water and water polo.

Davies was inducted after becoming a household name in swimming throughout her career which took off at the 1976 Montreal Olympics when she represented Great Britain at the age of 13.

The 59-year-old went on to win a silver medal in the 400m Individual Medley at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and became a two-time Commonwealth champion with her gold medals at the Edmonton Games in 1978.

As one of the inaugural inductees to the Hall of Fame she said receiving the honour was a special moment as she was recognised as by her peers.

“It was a real honour. Swimming has been my life for as long as I can remember and when I haven’t been competing at the Olympic games, I’ve been working for the BBC.

“I’ve now been at the side of the pool for 12 consecutive Olympics, so I’ve never left swimming since I was first a junior international as an 11-year-old. It’s just a huge part of who I am.

“I think when they stick me in the ground, it’ll just say ‘you’re that swimmer’ because everywhere I go, that’s what I get called.

“It was an honour to be recognised by your peers, the people that you admire and the people that you spend time with.

“I still think of my position as being incredibly privileged that I get to put a microphone in front of all the athletes when they first get out of the pool and I’m grateful for the opportunities swimming has given me.”

‘Swimming is who I am’

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was Davies’ twelfth as either a swimmer or a key member of the BBC team covering the event.

Recently, she was poolside at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre as part of the BBC’s coverage of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and says that swimming will always be in her blood.

“It is who I am, it utterly defines me and I think it always will do.

“I swim every length with all the athletes, I’m totally on their side. I understand all the early mornings that people don’t recognise, there’s no fun and no glory in getting up at 5am in the winter months and chipping ice off your car to go training.

“People see all the competitions and all the lovely venues but they don’t see all the hard work behind it.

“I think that’s what’s so nice about the BBC crew with myself, Adrian (Moorhouse) and Andy (Jameson), who have been there a long time. And now Mark (Foster) and Rebecca (Adlington) as well.

“Every single one of us know how it feels and what the athletes are going through on both a good and a bad day.”

She says the lessons you are taught in swimming at a young age are incredibly important and stay with you throughout your life.

“The lessons that swimming teaches you are things that you have for the rest of your life.

“Keeping fit and the idea that exercise is really important and looking after yourself properly are things that stay with you.

“You learn how to remain focussed, set targets and become resilient because you get knocked over so many times and you have to get back up again. These are really valuable life skills which all sports but especially swimming teaches us.”

Recognising the backbone of the sport

With nominations available for volunteers, officials, administrators, Davies believes the Hall of Fame is the perfect chance to reward the people that go unrecognised.

“It’s really important because it isn’t just for athletes, it’s also for people that give their lives to swimming. The coaches, officials and all the people that make the sport because it is more than just the swimmers.

“It’s all the support staff, it’s everybody and it’s very much a team effort all the time.

“So I think the ability to nominate someone that has made a big difference to the profile of the sport, those that have encouraged and inspired young people to take up swimming or whatever way they’ve given to the sport, it’s lovely to be able to acknowledge that.

“These people are the backbone of what we do and there’s so many that we don’t hear about that give up their time for free.

“I’ve got kids that all do sport and I insist that at every single training session that they go and thank the coach and whoever’s involved because of the time they’ve given up.

“Most coaches, for example, are just doing it because they want to help others and to acknowledge those that are going the extra mile is very valuable.

“The Hall of Fame is still new but you become like part of a club too. It’s a really nice thing to be a part of and I’m glad that it’s been started.”

She had a message to share for anyone who was thinking of putting a nomination in.

“Just go ahead and do it! I think a lot of people think somebody else will have done it and if everyone thinks that then nobody will have done.

“If there’s people out there that have made a difference to you, this is your way to let them know.”

Nominations for the Swim England Hall of Fame need to be submitted by 9am, Monday 5 September.

To submit a nomination, please click here and fill in the form including as much detail as possible.