Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Splashing! EX-OLYMPIC SWIMMER RECREATES HISTORY FOR POOL OPENING

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It's Splashing! EX-OLYMPIC SWIMMER RECREATES HISTORY FOR POOL OPENING

Article excerpt

Byline: RUTH LAWSON

A TYNESIDE Olympic swimmer has gone back to the future.

Swimming legend Chris Cook recreated a historic swim to celebrate the official opening of Hadrian Leisure Centre yesterday.

Nearly 100 years ago, Jack Hatfield helped open the original Wallsend pool by swimming 300 yards in three minutes and 40 seconds.

Chris, who lives in Wallsend, took on this record and splashed his way to victory overtaking his fellow Olympian with a time of three minutes and seven seconds.

The 30-year-old said: "When I was asked to be part of the opening event I was over the moon.

"I love North Tyneside and to get involved in something on your doorstep is brilliant. I'm really excited.

"The fact a new pool is opening in the North East is a great thing. We need more of them as swimming is a life skill that everyone should have.

"I retired after the Olympic Games in Beijing so don't keep up as much training as I used to. It's now once a day every other day. But I've been in the water in the lead-up to try and make sure I achieved the target.

"Jack Hatfield was obviously before my time but his achievements back in that day were huge when you consider I swam full-time to get where I wanted to be but he was an amateur who would have been fitting swimming around his normal daily life."

Jack's son, Peter Hatfield fired the starting gun for the attempt, and Chris was cheered on by pupils from Western Primary School in Wallsend. Staff at the leisure centre brought back memories of Wallsend pool by dressing up Edwardian costumes.

And students from Burnside Business and Enterprise College, where the new leisure centre is located, created a display with photographs of the former baths.

Pupil Sophie Carlson, 14, came up with the name Hadrian Leisure Centre, and helped North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley cut the ribbon to open the pounds 9. …

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