Halesworth swimmer stops racing competitively at the age of 84

Neil Howell,80 from Halesworth is still winning swimming g medals. Neil in training at Bungay pool.

Neil Howell,80 from Halesworth is still winning swimming g medals. Neil in training at Bungay pool.

Age and a lack of competition has meant a Halesworth swimmer is retiring after 70 years of competitive swimming.

Neil Howell has decided to call it a day at the age of 84, after more than a 1,000 races and more than 400 medals.

He will continue to carry on swimming for leisure, but felt it was the right time to stop competitive swimming.

He said: 'It felt like the right time for my career as a competitive swimmer to end here. I first got a buzz for competing when I was in the Royal Air Force during my national service in 1950.

'I started taking up Masters swimming in 2000 and I have had a lot of fun competing for so many years and taking part in lots of tournaments.

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'But nowadays I don't feel the pain when I am in the water, but the aches and pains I certainly feel the day after.

'Add on top of that, I was one of very few swimmers left competing at my age and there was little competition.'

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Mr Howell learnt to swim at the former corporation pool in Beccles.

He once held a role of head of physical education at Halesworth Modern School where they used to transport children to Beccles for their lessons from 1959 to 1972.

He stopped swimming for a full year in 2007 after undergoing a hip replacement. But he was given the right advice and was fortunate enough to continue swimming and get more medals.

He swam competitively for a further nine years before taking part in his last competition in May 2016.

He racked up many gold, silver and bronze medals, but the proudest moment came from an event he didn't win anything at all.

He said: 'I have competed at many local and British championships but to go to the World Masters Championships and to be placed in the top ten was my personal highlight.

'To swim at that level against the best swimmers from across the globe was very enjoyable and a big honour.'

Do you have any Halesworth stories? Email kieran.lynch@archant.co.uk

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