Brisbane 1982: Andy Jameson (England)

The Commonwealth Games in 1982 were my first senior international and I was very grateful to be selected. You are never quite sure if the selectors are going to add you or not, but as a 17 year old kid from Liverpool, getting the chance to travel to Brisbane was just unbelievable. And then to swim with the people I was with with on that team was really great; people like June Croft, Phil Hubble and Andy Astbury, who was a real superstar in my eyes at the time, was just really great fun.

It was the first venue I’d been to with the pool in a stadium, and it was really big. So walking out into it you listen to all the experienced guys on the team and you just listen to them talking about fast water and how great it feels and all that kind of thing and take as much as you can from that.

I was lucky too that my sister Helen was also on the team, I don’t know how many brother and sister combos for the British swimming team there have been, but just to have her there, and as I was still pretty young, to be able to go and ask her a question, because she’d been there before and got a silver medal in Moscow, was so helpful.

Back then I was a backstroker and swam the 100 and 200 backstroke at those Games. I swam a lifetime best in the 100, which I was really pleased with, but Steve Harrison went slightly faster so he got the relay spot – I still think about that; if I had just gone that little bit faster I could have got a medal, but I didn’t so it was fair enough.

I hadn’t gone with any expectations, but I had sat down with my coach Pete Prestbury beforehand and we had worked out what we thought would be needed to make the 200m backstroke final and we thought that maybe 2:08 or 2:07 high would do it, so that’s what we worked around. But Pete would make me write down goal times so I put 2:07 down as my target and then he said, “what if everything goes perfectly, the water’s flowing the same way as you all the way through the race – what would you swim?”

So I put down a time and lo and behold, I made the final and swam a big best time of 2:05.95 – the very time I had written down and had on a piece of paper next to my bed. It just blew my mind. It still blows my mind today.

It was a really fun experience Australia was wonderful, the Australians love swimming so it was great all around and you got to do loads of new things; I’ve still got a photograph of me holding a koala for example. It’s a good job it’s not scratch and sniff because it really stank! But it was it was an exciting thing to have gone and done when I was just 17 years old.

You can listen to Andy’s memories on the Commonwealth Games memories podcast series.

Banner Image: Romain Terpreau on Unsplash