Ellen Bovil The Swimmer

Ellen The Swimmer

I started swimming when I retired (in the 90’s). Originally my friend Sue and I went to the dancing which Rose organised. Rose asked us if we would like to come to excersisie classes which would be in the pool. Both Sue and I were not swimmers and raised our hands in horror, so Rose pointed out there were swimming lessons (starting the next week) and run by – yes – Shirley. Both Sue and I knew Shirley from long a go (Yes Shirley it is long a go) so we decided to give it a try.

Of course we thought that the lessons would be in the little pool and shrieks of horror – it was in the big one but Shirley insisted, and so it started …… and progressed and we were both soon happily swimming round the pool, quite happy at the deep end.

Sue did not stick with swimming but I did. I really enjoyed it and quickly became a regular. I have (being a bit elderly) a bit of arthritis and the swimming helps that. I am such a regular that on one occasion on of the lifeguards said to a swimmer ‘Oh that’s Ellen, she is part of the furniture!’

I also took up diving. Now surprise – surprise – I was rather good at diving, and I can remember when I started the lessons with Dawn (bless her heart) there were 2 other younger women and a young man of about 20. He saw me and looked really disgusted at this OAP.. LEARNER! But I have to say, I did one big belly flop and said ‘never again’ and listened very carefully to what Dawn said, so the next try was not a belly flop and earned me a ‘very good’ from dawn.

I continued to improve and watched (with great pleasure) the YOUNG man continue to belly flop. It just shows you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Unfortunately the diving had to stop as the arthritis spread. But NOT the swimming. This piece of furniture, hopefully will go on swimming for quite a while.

Who knows, I might request a burial at sea!!

Ellen Bovil




Ellen Bovil (wife of Philip Bovil) a leading light in the Strolling Players Drama Group swam 64 lengths in aid of charity. Ellen was a total non-swimmer, very nervous, but very determined – she learned to swim – and then learnt to dive – she completed her swim and raised a lot of money – 64 lengths is a mile – no mean feat for someone who had only just learnt to swim


Shirley Miles