A ‘LEGEND’ in local swimming is stepping down from her lifeguard duties after more than four decades in the job.
Gaynor Almond has been a lifeguard and swimming teacher at leisure centres in Milford Haven, Neyland and Haverfordwest for 41 years.
The popular 60-year-old was among the first members of staff at the Meads Swimming Pool (later to become Milford Haven Leisure Centre) when it opened in the early 1970s.
She has decided to give up lifeguarding - but will continue to take swimming lessons and aqua aerobic classes.
“Sometimes people ask me how I could stick it coming in every day,” said Gaynor, who has taught many thousands of children in Pembrokeshire to swim, including generations of the same family.
“I say I’ve enjoyed my job. I love coming in every day. I’m part of the furniture!”
Gaynor’s retirement from lifeguarding has led to many comments on the Leisure Centre’s Facebook page, with one dubbing her an ‘absolute legend’.
Originally from Cellar Hill in Milford Haven, Gaynor taught herself to swim in the Pill and the outdoor pool on the Rath, where she first gave lessons before starting work at the new Meads pool.
She has taught all levels and ages, and said she especially enjoys teaching ducklings classes (pre-school) and stages 1 to 3 (beginners).
“I love seeing the look on the children’s faces when they start learning to swim and enjoying it, and they’re happy with what they’ve achieved – and when they get their first five or ten-metre badge,” said Gaynor.
“It’s lovely seeing them go out with a smile on their faces.”
With a bit more time to herself, Gaynor is planning to go on holiday to Australia with husband Godfrey but she has no plans to give up swimming lessons yet.
She said: “I’ve fully enjoyed working with all the youngster lifeguards and the staff and the different managers. It’s time to give up as a lifeguard, but I love taking lessons – I live for it – and I love the aqua.”
Chris Payne, Pembrokeshire Leisure Services Manager, said Gaynor had been a real ‘asset’ to the team.
“Gaynor has always been dependable and has always put her heart and soul into the job which I know she loved and enjoyed” he said.
“Luckily Gaynor will continue to take swimming lessons and Aquarobic classes for us in the future.
“All of us at Pembrokeshire Leisure wish her all the very best.”