Swimming veteran retires to concentrate on Lowestoft lifeguard role
PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 February 2015
Archant © 2010
He started teaching swimming through the adult education service in 1964 and has taught generations of children and adults ever since.
But after 50 years as one of the county’s most prolific swimming teachers, Peter Dukes is hanging up his goggles to concentrate on his role as a lifeguard at Lowestoft.
A recognisable figure to many in Norfolk, the 82-year-old started coaching competition teams in the 1960s before teaching children, beginners, advanced swimmers and disabled swimmers in pools across Norwich.
In recent years Mr Dukes designed and taught a keep fit swim class to challenge participants to swim for fitness, which saw all sorts of people sign up from triathletes and retirees to police officers.
Mr Dukes said: “One of the greatest things about my role is when you teach adults who haven’t swam for maybe 30 or 40 years. When they take their first strokes, it’s like they’re taking their first steps.”
Mr Dukes began swimming at a young age and fondly remembers swimming as a child in the River Wensum.
A retired supervisor at Anglia TV, Mr Dukes was a founding member of Lowestoft Volunteer Lifeguard Corps in 1952 and continues to serve as an active lifeguard at Lowestoft, with over 60 years of service to the group.
Mr Dukes said: “Lowestoft is a wonderful, wonderful beach with lovely locals and lovely people.”
He is well respected amongst fellow lifeguards and remains an assessor and trainer for the group.
Currently serving as president of the Corps, Mr Dukes - from Poringland, near Norwich - is the holder of a long service award and medal of honour from the Royal Life Saving Society.
Having previously served as a lifeguard at beaches along our coastline including Bacton, Overstrand and Winterton, he said: “Lifesaving is my forte. Prevention is the key - every time you speak with a family on the beach, we you can help prevent an incident.”
‘Dukesy’, as he is known to friends and colleagues, continues to swim three mornings a week at 6.30am, completing up to 1,600 metres a day.
“I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve met some wonderful people and taught generations of people.
“I even met one woman who told me that I’d taught her grandmother.”
He went on to say: “I think until the day I pop my clogs I’ll be in the water.”
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