SWIMMING: OLYMPIC medallist Stephen Parry kept a promise to Merseyside's reigning sports coach of the year when he visited Halton to deliver a masterclass to budding swimmers.
The visit stemmed from October when Halton Swimming Club's head coach Brian Higgins was acclaimed at Merseyside Sports Partnership's Future Champions dinner in Liverpool.
Parry, who had earlier in 2004 won 200m butterfly bronze in Athens, was home in his native city as one of the principal guests and among the first to congratulate Higgins.
It was during the presentations that the possibility of Parry going along to Kingsway Leisure Centre first arose.
And it became reality as members of not only Halton SC but also neighbouring Runcorn Reps got the star treatment in a three-and-a-half-hour teach-in.
Higgins, who won coach of the year in the 2004 Halton Sports Awards to go forward to the regional competition, said: 'I suppose it all stemmed from the awards ceremony, but I have met Stephen a couple of times since.
'We had a talk about it and he agreed to do it.
'Stephen has now retired from swimming and is setting up his own business, doing clinics and motivational talks not only for clubs but also business.
'He was off to America the day after he came to us to do something along those lines and has also been doing quite a lot on TV.'
About 60 swimmers took part in the event which was organsied with help from a £250 Halton Sports Development grant.
DC Leisure, who manage the King-sway centre, played a part by extending the pool time for Halton SC's regular Monday-night session.
'We have had a couple of swimmers visiting in the past, coming down from Loughborough University to help with some coaching, but Stephen is the first big name we have had,' added Higgins.
'He did warm-ups, racing techniques, a motivational presentation and spent about three quarters of an hour having photographs taken.
'It was fantastic and went down really well. I think it will help young swimmers a lot because a lot of them don't really understand how they take their careers on from here.
'Stephen went to university in America and talked about that. I am sure it will encourage them all.
'It was the first time our young ones had seen anyone of that level.
'I would have no qualms about bringing him back for a return visit. He was very professional.
'I'm sure he will be in great demand from here on in. We have done well to get in early.'