Swimming coach retires after 25 years of teaching Kimberley area children

An inspirational swimming coach, who has taught hundreds of children in the Kimberley and Eastwood area over 25 years, has retired.

By Richard Silverwood
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:47 am

At a time when women’s sport is booming, thanks to the exploits of the England Lionesses football team, Jackie Bailey has planted another flag in the sand.

Since 1997, she has been taking swimming lessons for youngsters at primary and secondary schools across the district – from Underwood to Awsworth.

She has taught many youngsters their first strokes in the water and guided others towards competitive swimming at county and national levels.

Jackie Bailey, pictured in her swimming teacher's uniform, has retired after 25 years.

Working for Nottinghamshire County Council, Jackie, 57, who has lived in Nuthall all her life, has been mainly based at the pool at Kimberley Leisure Centre.

And she says she has “enjoyed every minute of it”, finding it “such a challenge to work with both absolute beginners and advanced swimmers”.

"Over the years, there must have been hundreds of children at my sessions,” she said. “Only the other day, a teacher at Kimberley Primary School said to me: ‘Oh my goodness! I remember when you taught me as a youngster!’

"And often when I go into a supermarket, I see children smiling at me, remembering me from their swimming lessons.

The pool at Kimberley Leisure Centre, where Jackie has taught hundreds of schoolchildren.

"It has all given me a lot of satisfaction. It has never been like a job. It has been more like enjoyment, especially seeing children who were frightened of the water progressing and learning to swim well.”

Teaching swimming is a job Jackie was always tailor-made for.

"Even as a toddler, I loved being in the water,” she recalled. “I was only six years old when I passed a test to swim a mile, and not many do that distance at that age.

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"I swam competitively for the Radford club in Nottingham, who used to train at Kimberley, from the age of nine to 15, and I represented the county with the Nova Centurion squad. I also swam for England at schools championships.”

Confirming her all-round sporting prowess, Jackie excelled at bowls too. After watching her father, Brian Clark, play, she took up the sport and even won a national title, just like him.

She landed the English Bowls Association’s (EBA) Mixed Pairs Championship with Bulwell’s Phil Dickens in 1995, 12 years after dad Brian had won the EBA Men’s Fours.

Coaching appeared on her radar when her own children, Samantha, who is now 30, and Scott, who is now 28, first started to learn to swim.

She said: “I had been working in wholesale, dealing with accounts and wages, but I thought that, with my swimming background, teaching was an easy job to go into.

"So I got my qualifications and started, working mornings and afternoons. I have taught children as young as four and also done a lot of rescue work and lifesaving skills.

"The big thing is making people safe in the water.”

Jackie, who lives with husband Mike, 59, a former civil engineer, decided that her 25th anniversary was a suitable time to retire, although she will continue her part-time teaching work at the David Lloyd Nottingham gym at Aspley.

"I plan to enjoy the rest of my life,” she said. “To go on holiday when I want to and to have some ‘me time’.

"After 25 years, I thought: that’s enough now!”