Olympic swimmer and TV presenter SHARRON DAVIES on growing up by the sea in Plymouth, Devon, and how she’s encouraging families to get active. Interview by Alex Reece
I was brought up in Plymouth, and I ﬁrst swam from Devon to Cornwall when I was about eight, from one side of the Tamar to the other. I remember bumping into Sir Francis Chichester’s boat, and swimming with a basking shark, which at that age was quite daunting. I was already swimming competitively by then and my life at weekends, when I wasn’t racing, was on the beach. I grew up with that being part of my life.
Because my dad was extremely strict with my training, we didn’t have summer holidays from when I was about 10 or 11. Up to that age, we’d gone away to Cornwall every summer. We’d go to the St Ives area – and, until very recently, I had a house down that way, so I used to go back a lot to recharge the batteries.
My three kids all surf, so we’d go to all the different beaches, and we’d take our little bulldog for nice walks. No trip was ever complete without going out to Kynance Cove (pictured), which is magical. It’s a National Trust beach and there’s a lovely café there that does the best cup of tea and sandwiches.
The reason why I sold the house was because we were so busy. My daughter does track and ﬁeld so, in a strange sort of way, I’m back in that situation my dad was with me. My daughter is either training or competing all summer, which doesn’t give us the time to go to Cornwall. I do miss it, but my mum’s still in Plymouth, so I’ve got that to escape to.
I’d like to think that being by the sea encourages families to get active. The motivation for my new website, parents4sport.co.uk, was to help parents, because children need their parents’ support to be sporty. The problem we have nowadays is there are too many electronic gadgets in kids’ lives. We have a responsibility to get them building dens, camping, swimming, ﬁshing – just being active outdoors.
For all your questions about kids and sport, visit parents4sport.co.uk.
"I remember bumping into Sir Francis Chichester’s boat, and swimming with a basking shark, which at that age was quite daunting. I was already swimming competitively by then and my life at weekends, when I wasn’t racing, was on the beach. I grew up with that being part of my life."