Double-Olympic-gold-medallist James Guy visited Millfield Prep School to re-open his childhood swimming pool after its four-month overhaul.
James, 25, won two gold medals and a silver at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and two silver medals at the Rio games in 2016 – and attended Millfield Prep and Millfield as a youngster.
The Millfield Prep pool first opened in 1966, at a cost of £2,500. Since 2018, the school has poured £445,000 into the pool and its facilities. Prep pupils used the 50m pool at the neighbouring senior school, Millfield, during the four-month closure.
A hundred-and-twenty Millfield Prep pupils are on the school’s swim programme, swimming multiple times a week with support from a team of coaches. Local community and swimming groups also use the pool.
Director of swimming at Millfield Prep, Helen Gouldby, who coached James as a 12-year-old boy, said: “It was an absolute honour to have James here today, and it was so inspirational for the children. I often say to dream big and to have James here, who has reached the highest level within the sport, was phenomenal for the children.”
[T]hose sessions when you’re tired and you’ve had a bad swim, it’s about looking back and knowing that you’ve done everything right to get to that
– James Guy
James answered questions from two aspiring Year 8 swimmers about his career in the sport and advice for the next generation. One of them, Asta Maddox, a day pupil from Wells recently selected by Swim England for their national development programmes, said: “I was in awe. He was very inspiring and gave us some really good advice that I am going to take with me through my journey in swimming.”
James told pupils: “Swimming is not an easy sport, it’s a very hard sport. Enjoy what you’re doing [and listen to Helen!]. I know sometimes swimming can be hard and it’s boring when you’ve got 10 x 200s, but those sessions when you’re tired and you’ve had a bad swim, it’s about looking back and knowing that you’ve done everything right to get to that.”
Swim England recently warned that almost 2,000 pools could be lost forever by the end of the decade and that there will be a significant reduction in facilities available by 2030.
Millfield Prep’s pool was originally an open-air venue. Albert R. Broccoli, the Hollywood film producer of the James Bond films, paid the remaining £365 of the costs to build it when his son, Anthony, attended the school.