T: 01395 577733 
A: 45-47 High Street, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 8LN 
 
Haydn Welch Jewellers 
Sidmouth 01395 577733 
 

Duncan Goodhew 

 
 
It is 1973, the Somerset Age Group Championships are being held in Taunton and I am entered into the 16 years age group. 
 
Everybody new Duncan, or at least, everybody recognised him even if they had never spoken. He had the image of being untouchable, even then. His bald head (an accident falling from a tree, we were told), and not just his head, at least, that's what they say, and I believe them.  
 
Duncan was one of the priveleged few, being schooled at Millfield, (one of the most expensive schools in England). For us, in Taunton, we were nevertheless, just good enough to be invited to weekly training sessions at Millfield. The pool was short and under a domed cover. The fog inside meant you could rarely see the end of the pool. We were always in the slow lane, such was the speed of the Millfield teams. Duncan was there. 
 
We would often encounter Millfield in league galas in the early days Taunton were a good team and I swam for Taunton with great enthusiasm and enjoyed the coach trips home. But the business had to be done, and Millfield were always the team to beat, and often they were unbeatable. 
 
But not in my patch. Not at Taunton. We swam the heats and I made the final 6. Along with 3 Millfield boys. In earlier races they were winning Gold and Silver, in my race they were looking for a clean sweep.  
 
A Somerset Champion at eleven looked down the pool at 16 and thought it impossible to be Champion ever again. This was my pool, my team mates were watching and it was down to me to stop this clean swim. Millfield Gold, Silver and Bronze was never going to happen. 
 
Racing is tough sometimes, and whilst I can no longer remember the name of the winner, Bruce I believe, nor do I remember the name of the silver place (although they were both Millfield swimmers). I do remember the name of the bronze medal winner, Haydn Welch, and in forth place Duncan Goodhew. 
 
It would have been great to win, but I really spoiled their 1,2,3 and Duncan was even then, a great scalp to claim. 
 
A year later, I had to leave school and get a job. Whilst Duncan could stay on in education and swimming. Gaining the strength of young adulthood and the best coach in the UK. A few years later in Moscow, an Olympic Gold.  
 
Duncan was always going to be a hero, and I have one small claim to fame. Once, just once, I beat Duncan Goodhew. 
 
 
It wasn't just the swimming club, I enjoyed the Air Training Corps and would represent my Squadron 41F in a number of sporting activities. 
Swimming would be great, I managed to win every single race I entered and represented the ATC in national championships against the Army Training Corps and the Navy Cadets. The competition were tougher but I won the 100 yards butterfly and 100 yards freestyle.  
 
On my return to my Squadron, my CO called me in to his office. I stood to attention and saluted. It was quite quick really, "Great swim, how would you like to learn to fly ? There is a course coming up next week". 
 
A couple weeks later I was flying gliders solo, around an RAF base in Norfolk. I wasn't even old enough to drive. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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