SWIMMING: A DEDICATED coach who took a lower-paid day job for the benefit of his club has struck a big blow for swimming on Merseyside.
Brian Higgins of Halton Swimming Club took the Coach-of-the-Year award at a star-studded ceremony in Liverpool.
Also honoured was George Bunner, the Frodsham-based chairman of England Athletics.
Fittingly, one of the first to congratulate Higgins - already Halton's top coach - was star Olympic swimmer Stephen Parry, back in his home city after taking 200m butterfly bronze in Athens.
Higgins was acclaimed at the Future Sporting Champions din -ner staged by Merseyside Sport at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Friday.
Having been named Halton's Coach of the Year in the awards run by Halton Borough Council's sports development team, Halton Sports Partnership and the Weekly News, Higgins beat counterparts from five neighbouring local-authority areas to the prize.
Higgins has been an ASA club coach since 2001 and was this year chosen as county coach for the Inter-County Championships, while also taking charge of the Liverpool & District team.
He said: 'This award is great for the club and it's great for swimming because it has a bit of a low profile sometimes.'
Bunner received the Lifetime Achievement award after being nominated by Liverpool.
The AAA junior 880-yard champion in 1950 and former Liverpool Harriers captain, he has served his sport as an administrator, coach, track, field judge and author - devising the hugely-successful Sports Hall Athletics programme.