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[06 DEC 98] SWIMMING FEATURE
Retirement For Jo Deakins

Jo Deakins hauls herself out of bed at 7.30am every morning and revels in the lie-in she has just enjoyed.

For 10 years Deakins has been used to being up and about two hours earlier, plunging into a swimming pool, backstroking several miles and then going off to work.

For a decade Deakins has been one of the country’s best woman swimmers but has now decided to hang up her British costume and enjoy a touch more shut eye.

Deakins competed in the 200m backstroke at two Olympics, three Commonwealth games, three World Short Course Championships and won a medal at the World Student games.

But after the latest Commonwealth Games she took several months off and has now opted to live a more normal life.

"I have been in the national team for most of my adult life and 10 years at that level is a long time. I said I would have a long look at things after the Commonwealth Games so I have taken a couple of months to make sure I am making the right decision.

"To compete at the top level you have to be training around 20 hours a week and, of course, that has to be when the swimming pool is empty of the public so that means early mornings and then back after school or work. I suppose I have been getting up at 5am for the last 15 years or so.

"I have had a fantastic career and have been very lucky. Not many people get to one Olympics but I swum at Barcelona and Atlanta. They were not particular highlights – the outstanding memory will just have been being around the national team for 10 years.

"I have been to every continent except Africa, seen some great cities and met a lot of people who I never would have encountered otherwise. I have kept in touch with quite a few people and have friends all over the world and will be able to visit them.

"All that made it tough to give up and why I took my time deciding."

Not that Deakins will be staying away from the Fairfax Street swimming pool. She is still competing for the City of Coventry club and will be helping chief coach Nick Sellwood.

Even though Deakins is only 26 she is something of a Corinthian throwback. After moving to Coventry from Evesham a decade ago, Deakins graduated from the city’s university and has worked full time ever since. These days swimmers are professional, supported by lottery money.

"I suppose I am the last of the part-time generation. We had to do the same amount of work as they do now but also had to support ourselves to a greater extent. I was very lucky in that National Packaging, in Coventry, employed me part time and allowed me to meet my training requirements and also train, which was superb and now they have taken me on a full time basis.

"I think I would have struggled to be a full time swimmer. I am not one to sit around and I tend to be always on the go. It is impossible to train all day everyday and I think I would have soon become bored with the lifestyle if I had not had anything else to occupy me.

"I have said I will help out in coaching and it is a strange sensation to be advising Kerry Juggins, who, until recently, was a rival of mine. She has qualified for the European Short Course championships this week and said she wanted me to help her in the build up to that.

"I have also got the know a lot of the younger swimmers in the club and I would feel bad about just walking away and leaving them so I am determined to give something back.

"I will also be competing for the club and will have to stay in condition for that but it will just be nice to ease off a little."

She will also be taking in some games at Highfield Road as a hobby. Will she be at their next home game?

"No, unfortunately I will be competing so I won’t get to see that match!"

Some retirement!
   

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CWN / Sport / Swimming / 6 Dec 98

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