Richard’s in the swim...


RICHARD KNIFTON is trying to swim one million yards in under five years. And thanks to the weekly Tuesday night swimming sessions for the handicapped, organised at Heanor Pool by the Heanor Project, and also to the super efforts of his 70-year-old widowed mum, Richard is well on target.


The big swim is under the Amateur Swimming Association’s adult award scheme and is carried out in stages, with the number of yards accumulative.


Richard (33), of Wellington Street, Heanor, was last week presented with his bronze badge, awarded for the first stage and for swimming the first 20,000 yards on the million in six months.




In fact, Richard notched up 21,000 yards between September 26 last year and the middle of last month. Now he’s started on the silver badge section, awarded for taking the figure to 35,000 yards in a year.


After that come the gold award (65,000 yards in two years), the diamond award (150,000 yards in three years), and the supreme award of one million yards – 914,440 metres - in under five years.


About a dozen mentally handicapped people and several physically handicapped are currently attending the weekly sessions, which are staffed by volunteers – a large proportion of them police cadets.


Mrs Ruby Starkey, community service organiser of the Heanor Project – a scheme which co-ordinates community service work among local young people – says the staff at the pool take a personal interest in the progress of the class.


Of Richard – the only member at the moment taking the adult award scheme – she says: “He is a terrific example of what can be achieved given the right encouragement. His mother gives up a lot of time and makes enormous efforts to support him. A great accolade should go to her.” “I have no doubt at all that Richard will complete the million yards.”


In 1977 Richard took his ASA bronze survival award which, at that time, was thought would be his limit. But the cadets persevered with him and in June last year he made the silver survival award.


Richard first learned to swim about seven years ago when his mother Mrs Winifred Knifton started taking him to the Heanor Pool. “It opened a new chapter in his life and he loves his visits to the pool,” commented Mrs Knifton.


Richard, who has just got his Heanor Swimming Club badge, is learning a few life-saving techniques with the club and on Saturday will be demonstrating these at Nottingham.

Newspaper unknown, England
September 1979