This month's featured member of ECSC will probably be familiar to visitors of our website and social media after his amazing endeavours for charity last year! Neil Gilson is a former swimmer and close friend of Liam Tancock, after they came up through the ranks at Exeter City Swimming Club during the 1990's. Neil swam a remarkable 24 miles in 24 hours in June last year at Loch Lubnaig, Scotland, to raise money and awareness of the charity PANS PANDAS, a charity very close to Neil and his family's hearts. We followed Neil's training and the endeavours during that amazing endurance event. We also supplied Neil with some of our latest kit so he could represent a little bit of ECSC during the challenge!
Neil had great success with our club, which like many of our former swimmers, still holds a really special place in his heart, with lots of brilliant memories and friendships made during his time swimming with us. Neil keeps up to date with how the club is doing through our website, social media and when he gets together with our famous former swimmer Liam Tancock. Neil was best man at Liam's wedding to Caitlin last year.
Neil says "Exeter City Swimming Club is special. I grew up in North Devon, so Exeter wasn't really the natural choice of club for me to choose. I started swimming competitively at county level for North Devon Swimming Club. Exeter was always the club you looked at and wanted to swim for. They looked the real deal. They had swimmers such as Liam Tancock, Ryan Tancock and Ben Ward who would win everything. They also always had the best kit! As a 12 year old swimming there one day was definitely my ambition. As my swimming progressed from regional to national standard, I decided it was time to up my training to the next level. This is where my affiliation with Exeter began. I was still living in North Devon, but the club were kind enough to allow me to join on a 2nd club basis. I would do half my training in North Devon and half in Exeter and I competed nationally for Exeter. Training with the likes of Liam & Ryan pushed me to the next level. I then moved to Exeter full time. My swimming really started to progress - I was starting to win National medals and competing in international competitions."
Pictured below - Neil Gilson (far left) and Liam Tancock (far right) poolside at the National Champs
Neil goes on to say "Although it was hard training it was also fun, I have some great memories - being part of Exeter City Swimming Club made me proud - I feel lucky to have trained alongside some great swimmers and to have been part of such a great club. I made great friends along the way, some of which I can call my best friends to this day. The club will always be special to me and it's a huge part of who I am today. I recently completed a 24 hour swim to raise awareness for a condition my son has and the club were kind enough to support me through this and even provided me with some kit. I've also competed in some open water competitions and they reported on my results. They've always made me feel part of the team!"
Pictured below - Neil with great friend Liam lakeside during his epic 24 miles in 24 hours in a cold Scottish Loch. Sporting their ECSC swim hats!
"Happy 125 years and here's to creating many more fantastic skills and opportunities for other swimmers in the future."
We would like to thank Neil for agreeing to be featured as part of our 125 year celebrations and it is lovely to see one of our former swimmers hold such happy memories of our great club.