So who are Plymouth Leander, and where does their name come from?
In Greek mythology, Leander was a young man from Abydos, a town of the Asian side of the strait which separates Asia and Europe. On the opposite shore, in the town of Sestos, lived the maiden Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite.
Leander loved her, and used to swim the strait nightly to enjoy the company of his mistress, guided by a torch which she reared upon the tower for the purpose. But one night a tempest arose and the sea was rough; his strength failed, and he was drowned. The waves bore his body to the European shore, where Hero became aware of his death, and in her despair cast herself down from the tower into the sea and perished. Left shows Leander swimming across the Hellespont ffrom a painting by Bernard Picart and to the right, The Last Watch of Hero by Frederic Leighton, depicting Hero anxiously waiting for Leander during the storm.
So, we're named after some Greek dude who drowned!
Fortunately, this is where the similarities end. Plymouth Leander swimmers are strong, confident and competent, whether it's our five year olds in the learn-to-swim programme, or our Senior Internationals challenging for Olympic glory, a PL swimmer is a fine and upstanding swimmer.
Formed in 1965, Plymouth Leander Swimming Association was the amalgamation of the Plymouth Amateurs and Plymouth Ladies Swimming Clubs - hence an 'Association'. At the time, this gave Plymouth three swimming clubs; Port of Plymouth, Devonport Royal and Plymouth Leander. Port were very much the major swimming force in Plymouth through to the early 1990's and then things started to change somewhat. Some key points in PL history:
1988: Jon Rudd retires as a swimmer with Port of Plymouth. Fancies doing a bit of coaching...
1989: Jon first appointed as Head Coach of PL, taking over from Sue Butler. Training takes place in three pools in Plymouth over only a few hours per week. Central Park Pools is still 36.66 yards long and is used 'Club Night' on Fridays ; Seaton Pool, a 6-lane 33.33m pool is used on a Wednesday; but the main PL home is that most unbelievable of places, Ballards, a 4-lane 25 yard pool in which all other sessions are completed
1990: PL start two a.m sessions per week in public lanes at Central Park. Some people think their world has ended having to swim at 7.00am!
1991: PL produce their first ever National Qualifiers. Sarah MrQuarry, Neil Ferguson and Stephen Ferguson qualify for the National Age Championships in Coventry
1994: PL produce their first National medallist. Alex Tremellen wins bronze in the 17/18 years 50m Butterfly at the ASA National Championships
1998: Mark Robinson becomes PL's first International when he is selected to swim for England Schools in the 27th Speedo WISE International in East Kilbride. Robinson wins the Senior 100m Freestyle