Swim coach who cannot swim.

GLADYS PYE cannot swim and almost drowned on her honeymoon, but that has not stopped her volunteering as a swim coach and administrator for the past 48 years. Mrs Pye, 82, was recently awarded a Swimming NSW life membership, one of just 37 people to receive the prestigious honour since 1942.She helped form the Merrylands Swimming Club in 1968, and got involved to ensure local children learnt to swim.
Mrs Pye was a club coach from 1980-1986, and became a life member of Merrylands Swimming Club in 1984.“I can’t swim a stroke. Because I couldn’t swim, I made sure my children had to,” Mrs Pye said.
“I nearly drowned a couple of times trying to swim, even on my honeymoon. I was one of seven children in my family and swimming wasn’t as important as it is these days.”
To get involved with swimming, she helped the club with time keeping and once she got her credentials, she learnt other aspects of hosting a swimming meet and is now a club referee. When her three children had grown up, Mrs Pye and her late husband, Jim, continued to volunteer at the club, as it was something they enjoyed doing together.
“We loved seeing the kids succeed,” Mrs Pye said. “We made sure the kids knew the stroke rules, because if they didn’t, they would get disqualified at other meets. Jim used to tell them, and give them a Mintie. He was known as the ‘Mintie Man’ and after his funeral, everyone walked out and had a Mintie.”
Their contribution to the club has been recognised, with the club room named in their honour.Mrs Pye has continued her involvement with the club, and refereeing at the club’s weekly meets. She remembers seeing Australian Olympic water polo player Mitchell Emery and Melbourne Storm’s Blake Green swimming at the club. Merrylands Swimming Club had 150-200 members when it first started, and has 125 members in 2016. Mrs Pye said it was still a great club to be a part of.
Club president Graham Edwards said everyone at the club loved Mrs Pye. “She is very approachable and always has the club’s best interests at heart,” Mr Edwards said. Gladys is a real club person through and through, and will do anything to see the club be successful. Clubs don’t survive without people like Gladys.”
Mrs Pye has been nominated for the Service to Sport award, which is part of the Junior Sports Star Awards.