Percy's passing was unexpected but totally fitting at the same time, being that he'd just completed another swim session at the Claremont Pool where Swim Smooth is based (featured in last week's blog). I was personally there when Perc passed, having just been discussing his accomplishments with him (which he loved to do) not 20 minutes before. I had been admiring his latest medal haul which he was carrying around in a Coles plastic shopping bag! As everyone agrees over here in the WA swimming community, it was a fitting farewell to such a beloved character and something the world's most passionate swimmer might have scripted for himself.
I first met Perc when I arrived in Perth in 2002 from the UK. He was one of the first people to come over and chat with the new "pommie" on the swimming circuit down at what has grown to become my favourite race, the 2.2km Cottesloe to Swanbourne swim. Always friendly and always ready to tell a story, Perc was a real character and I remember being amazed at how well a 77 year old was competing against the young guns in the tough ocean conditions.
Back in 2004 when we released the first Swim Smooth DVD, I discussed just how important it is to find enjoyment within your swimming to help motivate you to get down to the pool and make progress with your technique, fitness and open water skills. Sadly over the years we have seen so many athletes getting into swimming but seeing it only as a necessary evil to complete a triathlon event. This proves to be a huge barrier to progress for so many people. If you have ever felt this way yourself, I just hope that you can take an ounce of inspiration from Perc by getting down to the pool and having a lightness and positivity in your attitude towards your swimming. Keep a smile on your face and enjoy being immersed in the water for all the positive benefits it brings you.
Perc had three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He will be sadly missed within our local swimming community in Perth and no doubt much wider afield as well. Personally I feel blessed to have known and been inspired by such an amazing person over the last 10 years and I will miss our poolside banter tremendously.
Thank you Perc for all the memories and for fuelling my own passion for swimming.
Swim Smooth Head Coach