Page 4, Ufford PUNCH, July 2019 Karen Davies immerses herself in coaching swimmers Lasting passions—on and in the water Above: Perhaps some of the toughest boats there are to race, ‘Gartmore’ was an IMOCA 60’ open design skippered by Josh Hall. John not only designed and made all of the boats sail inventory, but often joined the skipper to compete in two-handed races I was pleased to receive an invita- tion to contribute to the ‘water’ edition of Ufford PUNCH, not just because I am fortunate enough to live amongst the beautiful water meadows that surround our village, but also because water has played such an important part of my life As an impressionable teenager keen on racing dinghies, I raced with and against a number of different sailmakers and to my youthful way of thinking these men had an al- most perfect work/life balance, they were racers able to compete every weekend and during the week they designed sails and talked boats all day – what could be better? Having left school, it wasn’t long before I’d talked my way into a local sailmakers as a trainee and thus began a journey that has, over some forty odd years, taken me from the workshop floor to owning my own sailmaking business with a staff of twelve and an enviable reputation for high quality prod- ucts and services In parallel to my sailmaking story there has been, perhaps, an even more interesting story of my pas- sion for racing sailing boats. It’s strange to think that the very first time I set foot in a boat (a 12’ Firefly dinghy) it was to take part in a race. Since that day I have raced literally hundreds of differ- ent types and design of boat across many thousands of miles of sea (around 150,000 miles) and in all parts of the world After all that work and all that sailing, my late Mother (a definite non-sailor) would always half- jokingly comment……when are you going to get a real job!!! For me, in my world of boats, sails and the sea I have been truly fortunate to break the old adage ‘never mix work with pleasure’ Take your marks…….Go! Silence falls around the pool, then an explosion of sound. Swimmers enter the water and poolside erupts with loud cheering. The noise is deafening but it’s one of my favourite sounds! Helping chil- dren perfect their water skills, conquer their fear and stand on the starting blocks, has been a passion of mine for over 20 years. My swimming teaching and coaching started when my eldest son ventured into the water at the Deben pool and discovered he was quite good at this water thing! He progressed through the various stages of lessons and into compet- itive squad swimming. As any swimming parent will know, you spend long hours poolside, so I decided to get involved. I volun- teered, rolled up my trousers (literally) and was handed a stop watch, thrown in at the deep end you could say. Gaining my swimming and coach- ing qualifications followed as my other children caught the swimming bug and joined their brother in the pool. As a young teenager Benjamin had the opportunity to compete at County, Regional and National level swimming competitions. At 14 he was ranked 7 th nation- ally at 200m front crawl. Lots of early mornings, tough train- ing sessions and numerous qualifying galas later he was selected to swim for Wales, the highlight being an international swim meet in Switzerland. A proud parent moment. I continue as a swimming teacher and coach for Deben Swimming Club and can be found 3 nights a week with the younger squad swimmers, per- Long term Ufford resident John Parker has a strong affinity with water! fecting their skill and stroke confidence, and most importantly nurturing their belief they can achieve. Benjamin contin- ues to swim and can be found competing in open water.