A TEACHER decided to enter Northwich Centurions’ sprints gala to prove to his students that racing need not be scary.

Geoff Lewis, who is 75, hadn’t taken part in the popular event for more than a decade before taking to the water at Memorial Court.

“It’s a curious thing,” he said.

“All of the youngest swimmers enter to show that they’re getting better, and faster.

“At my age I’m just trying to reduce the speed at which I’m slowing down!”

He competed in four races last weekend.

And, while he enjoyed it, he said that seeing boys and girls who are still learning to swim have a first taste of competition while their friends and family cheered them on was just as satisfying.

“I wanted to show them that anybody can have a go,” he said.

“If they see me lining up and getting ready to race, then I hope it became a less daunting prospect for them.”

It had the desired effect.

Josie Lawton, Centurions’ lessons head teacher, agreed.

She said: “I was thrilled to see 30 of our children who are still at the lessons stages – and most of them have never entered a gala – make the most of a chance to compete.

Centurions reported a record entry for the annual meet, which includes races over 50m for all strokes.

Younger swimmers still in lessons competed over one length of the 25m pool.

Ben Scott, 16, topped the time-sheet in the showcase 50m freestyle after clocking 27.99s.

Josh Williams was the only other member on the day to dip below 30 seconds, reaching the finish in 29.54s, while 14-year-old Ethan Beckman completed the boys’ top-three in 30.59s.

Madeline Pratt, 14, led the way for the girls in 30.11s ahead of Ella Richardson (30.42s) and Chloe Skelton in 31.6s.

“The racing was exciting to watch,” said chairman Steve Bradshaw.

“The competitors had amazing support too and the viewing gallery was both packed and noisy!”

Lewis, one of Bradshaw’s predecessors and still a committee member, coaches from pool-side at least twice a week.

He has been linked to the club since he started training there in 1993 after moving nearby, and still competes at masters events.

“I spend more time next to the water rather than in it,” he said.

“But teaching still gives to me a lot of pleasure which is why I’ve continued for this long.”

Asked if he would enter again, he answered straightaway.

“If it helps encourage others, then yes of course,” he smiled.