I was lucky that I had the chance to visit two very beautiful corners of the world for my two Commie Games.
I remember a wide-eyed youngster called James Hickman training with the Leeds group before the Games, and his excitement about the Games and life in general was infectious. I had been training in California that year and was tired the whole time I was there.
Even though I didn’t achieve what I had hoped to, I enjoyed the successes of the rest of the team. I remember diving off the ten metre board after Adam Ruckwood won the 200 back. I had been coached by Bob Morgan during the warm up but it was still pretty scary up there! I remember Curtis Myden and Matt Dunn going head to head in the medleys and being so impressed with their commitment.
I didn’t make the team to the worlds in Rome that summer, but that did give me a chance to stay in Victoria for an extra week and make the most of the generosity of a local family who took Matthew O’Connor and me out for a memorable day of salmon fishing.
What is just as memorable for me is the time that the two of us spent playing backgammon, and how O’Connor kept throwing a series of improbable double sixes to sneak 64 point wins from impossible situations which sent me into a furious rage and the board half way across British Columbia on more than one occasion.
When we left Victoria, Matthew and I spent a week visiting his parents, who had moved to Palma de Mallorca. As a direct result of that trip, seven years later we co-founded Blue Water Training Camps, which I am pleased to say is providing us with as much pleasure now as we found in our swimming careers. We haven’t played backgammon for years.