Broad Street Amazing Grace Isaac
From the Journal, April, 2010 - Interview by Steve Taylor
Wrington Website

Mrs Grace Isaac, 77 years young, and retired - though certainly not retiring - lives in Langford.

In 1950 she swam for Britain in the Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) in New Zealand. She was one of the 4x110 yards freestyle relay team, and they won the Bronze medal.

In 1952 Grace swam for Britain again - at the Helsinki Olympics. She swam in the 440 yards freestyle, although this time she did not finish in the medals. Then she gave up competitive swimming - for almost forty years.

Then her family grew up and left home, and Grace was made redundant. She went back to her first love, swimming, and in no time she was competing again at national and international level - in the Masters series, swimming freestyle and backstroke in various age classes.

Last Summer she and her relay team went to Spain, where they not only won their event, but broke the World record.

Photo Tina Gue ©

Grace, what got you interested in swimming in the first place?

I was 7, and we lived next door to a swimming pool. My father and my brother were good swimmers and they taught me. At secondary school in Bristol it really took off - I joined swimming clubs and started competing, and it snowballed from there. And I wish more schools today would get more involved in swimming, and make much better uuse of the facilities available - that's the way to produce future champions.

How long have you been coming swimming at Churchill ?

I've been swimming here for 18 years - I hadn't competed for 40 years, and then, when my family had all left home, and I was made redundant in 1992, my son prompted me to take it up again. Soon I was back in training again and competing in the various age classes. I swim three or four days a week, sometimes more, always in the daytime.

How do you feel about the closures at the Churchill Sports Centre?

Well, of course it will affect me - I shall have to try to reorganise my swimming, but it's the disruption to all the people who come here in the day - not just for swimming - the Tigers Club, all the other activities - that is appalling. What other facilities does North Somerset Council provide in local villages? Libraries? They are cutting those back too.

There's nothing else for people, particularly older people -for some it's their only exercise - and social interaction - of the week. And swimming is so good for you - for fitness - it's a life-enhancing skill, and a life-saving skill.