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Sport

Swimming’s own Santa Claus

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By Jonathan Twigg

IN any sport there are individuals who age like a fine wine and mature from the grape to become, over time, someone who is a respected and admired product, whom many strive to become.

One such full bodied person would be Carmarthen Swimming Club’s John Towle, hailing from Coventry in the West Midlands but now firmly ensconced in the landscape of West Wales sport.

John and his wife Hazel moved to Newcastle Emlyn in 2013 having lived in Bedworth for 32 years, with their two sons Adam, now living in London and Neil who is still residing in the Midlands at Hockley Heath, where John regularly returns for family time and to mix with old swimming friends at galas.

John started swimming in the 1960’s as a teenager at one of the three Coventry Clubs, where the current 50 meter pool stands today in the City Centre. But back in those days 33 yards was a more than a suffice distance for swimmers to train.

As, in all walks of life, choices had to be made when he was growing up and John followed a route into Scouting meaning swimming subconsciously took a backward step for 35 years.

His enthusiasm for Scouting prevailed from being a Senior Scout and gaining the Queen Scout Award, then the next 30 years as a Scout leader, progressing, eventually, to Assistant County Commissioner for Leader Training along with several years of assisting Leader Training course at Gilwell Park in London.

This role entailed him planning and delivering the training programme for all leaders whilst remaining at the forefront of nurturing young people to ‘be the best they can be’.

Eventually the lure of the swimming pool returned as John took his own children to Bedworth Otters Swimming Club. “As a parent I spent hours sitting and watching my two boys swim, so when an invitation was given to train as a technical official I accepted, and the rest is history.”

John committed the same enthusiasm he showed for scouting onto the pool deck and as time passed so swimming took over as his passion where the ‘boredom of sitting and watching the sport now sees him as one of Swim Wales most important cogs’.

His children have moved on from the sport, but John had found his calling and remained actively involved on the pool deck, qualifying as a Referee in 2004.

As part of Nuneaton and Bedworth Swimming Club (they merged late 1990s) he first got involved in training new officials to the sport at the Club, before moving to Coventry Swimming Club, taking responsibility for all their official’s training programme.

This led to an appointment to training officials across the Midlands region, particularly ‘young officials’ which he held until he moved to Wales four and a half years ago.

Short in stature he may be but John makes up for this through a well-spoken dialect, certainly a revered asset when communicating on the pool deck.  John is a man who listens, connects and reasons before speaking, which instantly earns him the respect he deserves, in many avenues of life, swimming being just one of them.

He is an active soul, despite his advancing years and the fact he has survived two cardiac infarctions, the second of which now sees him with a refitted heart. He enjoys walking, “primarily with a golf stick for support” he chuckles “and I’m also hands on at present in a major renovation of my garden, weather dependent of course.”

Both he and his wife have embraced life in Newcastle Emlyn, where he is supportive of his wife’s Chairmanship of the U3A, whilst John takes responsibility for producing the monthly newsletter.

He is also a keen clay pigeon shooter, “but like my golf it is dictated by time, weather and other commitments” he smiles ruefully. “Thankfully I get to play snooker on a more regular basis and enjoy the Sunday quiz nights in the local pub where my broad shoulders come to the fore in supporting the teams above us.”

Moving to Wales didn’t end his association with swimming; when he relocated he identified Carmarthen Swimming Club as the ‘right’ club, explaining “naturally I applied for membership and I am currently active in training club officials once again after some persuasion from Denise Conlon”!  John is committed to supporting the Club events, Urdd galas, Regional and Swim Wales national events and often finds himself away from home for nights on end.

“I do get tired, but swimming is a family, and everyone is supportive of each other. Those times away from the pool deck are enjoyable and friendships forged which for me have lasted a lifetime”.

John came through the sport and was on the pool deck along with British greats like Olympic British Paralympian swimmer Ellie Symonds, Olympic, European and Commonwealth breast stroke medallist swimmer Adam Whitehead and Olympic, European and Commonwealth back stroke competitor swimmer Jo Deakin.

“Swimming is a very technical sport, where the officials are present to see fair play for the competitors in a sport where the dedication to training can see them spending 16+ hours a week in the pool.

“Technology advancements have helped officials enormously but we had to embrace them as they were introduced.”

Due to his involvement at British National galas John’s experience meant he cascaded the information and technology through the ranks, although he still enjoys the ‘old school’ technique of pen, paper and a stop watch.

The future is one based on tomorrows for John. “My calendar each year is planned meticulously, with swimming taking a primary spot as I enjoy retirement from being a Technical Illustrator and Exhibition’s Project Manager. Evenings spent with fellow swimming officials are a time to relax, reflect and reminisce’ he says with a smile, and enjoying his favourite tipple, a glass of red wine.

He has had offers for key job roles as a double for Santa Claus, notably in the lead up to Christmas “but I turn them down as it’s also a busy month for swimming!” Perhaps then not a humbug as John is a living tribute to the sport of swimming.

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Sport

Felinfoel ease past Baglan

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FELINFOEL’s Anthony Matthias took five wickets to set up a comfortable eight wicket win for his side against Baglan on Saturday (Jul 14).

Matthias tore through the top order to leave Baglan reeling on 65-5 and they were unable to recover, eventually being bowled out for 104.

Matthias struck early on when he had Rhys Gaskins-Davies caught by Craig Richards for a score of 4 and he then had Martin Rees caught by Julian Griffiths for a second ball duck.

Jonathan Lewis and Josh Lyddon did offer some resistance with a stand of 41. However, Matthias returned and had Jonathan Lewis caught by Stuart Parmenter for a score of 21.

Moments later Lyddon was caught by Julian Griffiths for a score of 23 and Matthias wasn’t done there as he had John O’Leary stumped by Andrew Thomas for a duck.

Stuart Parmenter then had Jason Carpenter caught by Andrew Thomas for a score of 13 and Rhys Harries had Steven Kempton caught by Jonathan Cheal.

Parmenter trapped Martin Lewis leg before while Rhys Harries bowled Craig Jewell.

Taylor Rees offered some resistance with a score of 28 which included three fours and two sixes before being caught by Andrew Thomas off the bowling of Cheal.

Felinfoel lost two early wickets in their reply as Andrew Thomas was bowled by Taylor Rees for a four-ball duck and Rees also had Rhys Harries caught by Jason Carpenter for a score of 2.

Despite those wickets, Rhys Jones and Julian Griffiths shared an unbroken stand of 100 to send Felinfoel to victory.

Rhys Jones hit six fours as he finished not out on 29 while Julian Griffiths hit fourteen fours as he finished not out on 64 from 51 balls.

On Saturday (Jul 21), Felinfoel will be looking for another win when they travel to bottom of the table Cimla.

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Dafen and Felinfoel earn derby wins

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IN Division 1 of the South Wales Association Cricket League last Saturday, Dafen earned victory over Carmarthenshire rivals Llandysul.

Llandysul batted first in their game with Dafen and they were bowled out for 186 in 49 overs.

Opener Gary Williams got Llandysul going with a score of 84 and Rhidian Harris scored 12.

Ben Edkins scored 52 but when he fell to the bowling of Philip George, Llandysul suffered a late batting collapse.

Their remaining batsmen failed to make it into double figures as they went from 161-4 to 186 all out.

George finished with excellent figures of 6-21 from his 10 overs while Chris Hudson also took three wickets.

In reply, Nicky Davies made an early score of 32 before he was caught off the bowling of Andrew Edwards.

Simon Davies scored 19 and Matthew Evans top scored as he hit ten fours in a knock of 69.

Jonathan Randell then finished not out on 27 to help Dafen to victory by five wickets.

On Saturday (Jul 14), Dafen will look to pick up another win when they take on Gorseinon while Llandysul travel to Merthyr Tydfil.

The other game in Division 1 saw Bronwydd beaten by second placed Cowbridge.

Cowbridge made 250-8 from their 50 overs and had opener Thomas Merilaht top scoring on 91.

Ben Wright scored 40 before he was bowled by Matthew Vaughan and Tatenda Chiradza scored 27.

Brad Evans scored 37 and Jack Cropper scored 15 but no other batsmen made it into double figures as Bronwydd hit back.

Dafydd Morgan finished with excellent figures of 4-36 while Pauluge Gihan Secstus Fernando took three wickets.

In reply, James Cales scored 23 and James Dickson scored 38 while Oliver Furneaux scored 22. Meirion Davies scored 44 but that was as good as it got for Bronwydd.

Three wickets apiece from Brad Evans and Nicholas Wood ensured that the Carmarthenshire side were bowled out for 174.

On Saturday (Jul 14), they will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Maesteg Celtic.

Division 2

FELINFOEL also earned a derby victory over Llangennech as they beat them by 88 runs.

The home side batted first and were all out for 201 despite looking well set to make a good total on 166-3.

Opener Andrew Thomas scored 19 and Rhys Jones scored 36.

Julian Griffiths scored 24 while Rhys Harries was their top scorer with 81 as he hit 12 fours and a six.

Felinfoel then collapsed as Gareth George, Simon Clement, James Taube and Matthew Jones all took two wickets for Llangennech.

The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals in their reply as Hedd-Wyn Jones and Scott Lloyd both scored 10.

James Taube was his side’s top scorer with 33 runs, Matthew Jones scored 15 and Stuart Goddard made a late score of 21 but it wasn’t enough to help them to victory.

Tom Jones took four wickets for the loss of 25 runs for Felinfoel while Rhys Harries took three for the loss of 19 runs.

On Saturday (Jul 14), Felinfoel will look to keep their recent good run going when they take on Baglan.

Llangennech will look to get back to winning ways as they travel to Briton Ferry Steel.

The other game in Division 2 saw Drefach beaten by Maesteg.

Drefach batted first and scores of 59 from Dafydd Humphreys, 36 from James Carter and 62 not out from Owen Donovan helped them post a good total of 210-5.

Maesteg’s Andrew King then set his side on their way to victory with an excellent century. He was out on a score of 107 but other scores of 32 from Lloyd Wilkshire and 15 not out from Chris Parry saw them to victory.

Rob Seymour took two wickets for Drefach but the defeat means they stay third from bottom in the table.

On Saturday (Jul 14), Drefach will look to take themselves away from the drop zone as they travel to fourth from bottom Skewen.

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Llanelli slip to defeat

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JUST a week after their excellent win over Carmarthen Wanderers Llanelli suffered a disappointing 216-run defeat at the hands of Clydach in Division 2 of the South Wales Premier League.

On Saturday (Jul 7), Clydach won the toss and elected to bat and that proved to be a good decision as they posted a challenging total of 263-5 from their 50 overs.

Jonathan Hubschmid hit five fours and a six as he scored 57 while McKenzie Squires scored 25.

Sam Davies hit ten fours in a knock of 88 but he was then run out by Marcus Leaf as the home side did their best to keep the score down.

However, James Garland smashed three fours and a six in a score of 28 from 14 balls as Clydach piled on the runs late on.

Jack Todd then hit three fours and two sixes in a knock of 38 not out from 20 balls.

Llanelli struggled in their reply as only one of their batsmen, Marcus Leaf with 17, made it into double figures.

Jamie Lewis was in fine form for Clydach taking seven wickets as he had Leaf caught by Liam Garland, Iwan Rees trapped leg before and Steven Devonald caught by Christopher Donne.

Lewis took further wickets of Matthew Roberts, Ryan Nicholas, David Richards and Morgan Jones as Llanelli limped to a disappointing total of 47 all out.

Llanelli will look to put this defeat behind them when they take on Newport Fugitives away on Saturday (Jul 14).

Wanderers bounce back

CARMARTHEN Wanderers had better luck on Saturday (Jul 7) as they beat Panteg by three wickets in a high scoring game.

Panteg won the toss and elected to bat and they posted an excellent total of 236-8 from their 50 overs.

Will Bragg was the star of the innings for Panteg as he hit nine fours in a score of 103 before he fell to the bowling of Gareth Thomas.

Akhtar Balouch made 29 before being out to the bowling of Owain Binding and Daniel Wilkinson added 46 runs to the total.

In reply a score of 75 from Thomas got the Wanderers off to a good start and they also had captain Leighton Walters and Owain Davies make scores of 35.

Liam Rogers then finished not out on 43 to see the Wanderers over the line.

On Saturday (Jul 14), the Wanderers will be looking for another win when they take on third placed Penarth at Trinity Fields.

Ammanford up to third

AMMANFORD moved up to third place in Division 1 after they beat Ynysygerwn by 45 runs.

They made a solid start to their innings with Rhodri-Huw Davies making 56 and Elis Richards scored 17.

Daniel Roberts was the mainstay of the innings as he hit seventeen fours and a six in a score of 120 from just 95 balls.

He was run out by Josh Griffiths but that scored helped Ammanford post an excellent total of 272-7 from their 50 overs.

Alex McCormack scored 40 as the visitors made a steady start to their reply and Darren Thomas scored 77 and although Josh Griffiths finished not out on 20 Ynysygerwn fell short of their target on 227-9.

Matthew Fisher bowled well as he took four wickets and Sean Coaker also took two.

On Saturday (Jul 14), Ammanford are at home again as they take on fourth placed St Fagans.

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