We seem to say every time we feature one of our members, past or present, in this monthly feature to celebrate our 125th anniversary, however it is very fitting to say that this man needs no introduction! He is very well known in the world of swimming and sport in the Exeter and East Devon area and further afield too. This month's featured member is none other than former Head Coach, Peter Gilpin.
Peter Gilpin has a long family history with swimming in Exeter and joined Exeter Swimming Club (as it was then) in the late 1960's, swimming competitively throughout the 1970's. His Sister Jackie also swam for the club, swimming at Regional, National and International level for Wales. In the late 1970's Peter trained to be a PE Teacher, something that would eventually lead him back to the club.
Peter and Jackie's Father, John, and Mother, Pat, were stalwarts of the Exeter clubs throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, with Dad becoming Chief Coach for many years and Mum a teacher in the learn-to-swim section. Dad had been an international athlete when he was younger, so sport was definitely in the family's blood. Dad John got into swimming due to Peter and Jackie's involvement and he went into coaching and even become the Devon County ASA President in the late 1980's.
Peter was a Devon County Backstroke champion and record holder, also competing at regional level and national level throughout his swimming career, with his first National Age Groups in 1971 aged 11 and his last senior nationals in 1982 at age 24 when he ‘retired’ and swapped to coaching.
One of Peter's fondest memories of swimming with Exeter was making numerous finals of the (then named) Speedo League and our men’s Medley relay team winning the Western Counties title by beating what were then the supposedly unbeatable Millfield team that included GB Olympic legend Duncan Goodhew!
1982 Peter swapped to coaching, becoming the Age-Group Coach to City of Coventry Swimming Club, then Chief Coach at Newbury and the to Sunderland before returning to Devon in 1988,
where he became the newly-formed Exeter City Swimming Club’s first Chief Coach (and professional appointment) in 1988 following the amalgamation of the two clubs, City of Exeter and Exeter Swimming Club.
By then Peter had coached numerous age-group and senior regional and national champions, and had just had a swimmer selected for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. However his move back to Devon was to take up a full time leisure management position, so this was combined with coaching Exeter City SC. The ‘new’ club got off to a flying start with the increased pool time and a new squad structure, and was quickly producing Devon and Western Counties champions and medallists, and quite a few national qualifiers.
Peter says "I’d like to think that this formed the basis of the success that the club has seen ever since, and that I still follow with great interest. For me, this was a great rounding off of 20 years of close involvement with swimming in Exeter, and a great privilege to be the first Chief Coach of the amalgamated clubs; the amalgamation was long overdue and a credit to the Council and the respective officers of the two clubs who had the vision and strength to see it through".
Since then, leisure management has been Peter's sole career, and he is now Chief Executive of LED Community Leisure, who run all the leisure facilities (and pools) for both East Devon and South Somerset Councils.