It is with great sorrow that I have to tell you that Pauline passed away just over a week ago.
Those of you that have swum with her over the last 10 years will remember a kind, determined and witty lady.
I have written a short piece to remember her by.
I'm sure that with me your thoughts go out to Judith and her sister and all those that she has left behind.
I have found this piece enormously difficult to write, partly because it doesn’t seem right to write about Pauline in the past tense, and partly because I’m struggling to express what I feel about her as an individual, a team-mate, and above all as a swimmer.
As an individual she was always positive, witty and lively. As a team-mate she was loyal and would always give of her best for the team; she swam in countless relays and contributed huge quantities of points to Gainsborough’s efforts at the County sprints. We all knew her best as a swimmer, and it is as a swimmer that I will devote the rest of this piece.
Although Pauline trained at Birmingham SC and occasionally swam as a Birmingham SC swimmer when Gainsborough was not fielding a team, she was first claim Gainsborough and she would always swim for us if invited. I have trawled through my PC archives to try to find when Pauline actually first competed for us and the earliest record I can find is from 2001 in a press release relating to the May Scarborough event where I write “Mother and daughter, Pauline and Judith Brand won a Gold each....”; I suspect that this may have been the first event that we saw Pauline swim. She continued to compete for us at Scarborough and at the County Championships and collected a huge quantity of medals in the process. While other swimmers (myself included) would only compete in one or two races that we felt we could do well at, Pauline took the attitude that if she was going to travel all this way she was going to make the most of it. At times it seemed that whatever the race and whatever the distance Pauline would be there at the starting blocks.
In more recent years, Pauline suffered from pain in her legs and I was privileged to be able to help her up on the blocks. Initially I had been nervous in offering to help because in spite of her openness and unassuming manner, she was a very determined and proud lady. But it was typical of her attitude that she was proud enough to always start from the blocks however much of a struggle it took to get onto them, but never too proud to accept help when it was offered.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Pauline started recording her County records. Typically for Pauline she wouldn’t be fazed by the big event or the wrong end of the age group, and achieved records in 400 free, 50 back, 100 back and 200 back at the Nationals at the age of 69. The following year in her new age group of 70-74, Pauline travelled to Guernsey to record her next batch of records in 100 free, 200 free, 50 back, 100 back, 200 back, 200 breast, 50 fly and 100 IM. She returned to Guernsey the following year to add the 400m free to her tally of records but it wasn’t until 2005, at the age of 72 that she went to Scarborough and added the 50 free, 50 breast and 100 breast to complete her exclusive score of 12 records in one age group, making a total of 16 records still standing. Only two other County swimmers can claim more records still standing!
In 2008 at the age of 75 (a new age group under ASA rules), Pauline entered 8 events at Scarborough achieving County record times in each event, as well as being part of 4 relays. The claim for these records was rejected by the Hon. Masters Secretary of the Lincolnshire ASA on the grounds that it was unnecessary to create a new age group for just one swimmer, this in spite of records being recorded at 75-79 regionally in the East Midlands, Nationally at the ASA and Internationally in FINA. Subsequently, Pauline recorded Lincolnshire record times in a further 4 events at the Nationals. None of these records were allowed by Lincs ASA. The total record times that Pauline would have been holding at her death had Lincs ASA not disallowed the 75-79 age group records would have been 28 in all strokes and many distances; more than any Masters swimmer at any time in the County. Lincs ASA must bear the shame of this aberration collectively although the decision to reject the record claims lies with the Hon. Masters Secretary of the time. It is to Pauline’s credit that, while upset with the decision, she was phlegmatic enough not to let it interrupt her swimming and so she continued to swim for the pleasure of competing.
The last most of us saw of Pauline was at Cranwell last year where she competed for Gainsborough in the County Masters championships and, in spite of being unable to swim in her correct age group of 75+ (another Lincs ASA exclusive!), and being in a lot of pain, she contributed to our points and our relative success.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Pauline has gone to Heaven where I sincerely hope there is a swimming pool. If there isn’t, they had better start building one!