Swimming teacher Jane makes a splash with her retirement

Swimming teacher Jane Tomlinson (73) retiring after 26 years.Picture: James Bass

Swimming teacher Jane Tomlinson (73) retiring after 26 years.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A dedicated swimming teacher who taught hundreds of children to hold their own and be safe in the water has retired after 26 years.

Jane Tomlinson, 73, said she pushed herself to carry on as long as she could because she was passionate about the work she was doing.

But after a string of surgical procedures linked to arthritis and earlier sporting activity she has reluctantly hung up her goggles and dipped out of the water.

Reckoned among the oldest swimming teachers in the UK she won a top award ten years ago, an honour she recalls with pride.

“Twenty six years is a long time,” she said. “It is not just the fact of the number of years it is the fact I have had eight surgeries to keep going. I have worn my body out and tried to carry on and carry on because I have loved it so much. I must have taught hundreds and I loved what the children were achieving and how important it was.

“A lot of my children did not want to be competitive swimmers they wanted to be able to do their dancing and football. But the parents wanted them to swim and it is so important. If anything happens they at least have some knowledge about how to look after themselves. And when you go on holiday you can relax and enjoy yourself more.”

She said that retiring was a “very, very big step”.

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Describing herself as a hands-on teacher who did not tolerate messing around she mainly taught youngsters aged three to ten, always getting in the water with them.

Swimming alongside them was the best way to move them from upright-with-armbands to horizontal she said, adding that some of her charges had gone on to greater things too.

After qualifying to teach in 1991 she spent 10 years volunteering with Lowestoft Swimming Club and also took swimming lessons at local schools.

Just over 16 years ago she set up on her own with Dolphin Swim School holding eight classes a week, over two nights, with some ten children per class.

While at the club children could achieve various distances and lifesaving badges and certificates.

She also staged annual galas encouraging children to demonstrate their swimming at all levels.

Mrs Tomlinson added: “I was fortunate enough to have some lovely volunteers who supported me and my school both in and out of the water. A personal highlight in my career came in 2006 when I was named ‘Outstanding Swimming Teacher’ and received a national award.

“Unfortunately over the years I have had several hospital admissions with operations on my hips, spine and shoulder to name but a few. I now find myself with five prolapsed discs and on morphine medication to help with the pain. I realise that I have pushed myself emotionally, mentally and physically over the years in order to continue with my passion of teaching children to swim. It is for these reasons that I have taken the very difficult decision to retire and finally admit that at 73 years young it is time for me to stand down.

“It truly has been a pleasure to be involved with swimming all these years and I will miss it very much.”

A former policewoman who has always been sporty enjoying Judo and life-saving she has moved into a more sedate arena and now practises as a spiritualist, reading cards and healing.

She also enjoys gardening.