Major Honour as Bill is inducted to Swimming Hall Of Fame
15th April 2016
Bill Penny Head Coach at Atlantis Swimming Club has been honoured for what most would describe as a lifetime commitment to the sport of swimming. He was recently inducted into the British Swimming Coaches' Hall of Fame.
Bill started coaching in New Zealand and Australia in the early 1960’s. He arrived in England in 1965 and in 1967 set up the Forest Hill swimming club at Crystal Palace. Within one year three of Bill’s squad had won 5 gold medals at the National Age Group Championships.
1969 and a 13 year old named Jill Barnes, coached by Bill, was selected for the GB team. A year on and when Bill took over at a struggling Woolwich club he achieved a straight promotion to the first division winning the London Division 1 title. By 1972 they were the top club at the National Age Group Championships and were selected as the most improved club by Swimming Times. Two of Bills swimmers were selected for the Munich Olympic team.
In 1973 Bill began to build a large top level private squad of swimmers at Crystal Palace coaching on several England and GB teams. In 1977 he joined with Olympic Head Coach Dave Haller to coach Beckenham swimming club. Bill’s primary interest was in the under 18s aiming toward the 1980 Games. Beckenham went on to win the top club in the country for three years in a row, also the top club at the ASA Nationals every year. This amazing period finishing with 6 swimmers including Duncan Goodhew, competing at the Moscow Olympics.
After the games Dave Haller moved to Hong Kong and Bill took over as Head Coach. It was a time to rebuild as many of the senior swimmers retired. No thoughts of retirement for Bill he went on to secure Top club in 1982 and 84 and had two swimmers selected to compete for the GB team at the LA Olympics the youngest Zara Long being just 13 years old the youngest British swimmer ever selected for the Olympics.
In 1985 Bill took some time out from swimming spending most of his time in southern Spain until, he was again approached by Beckenham swimming club in 1991 to take over as Head Coach once again. The club had slumped considerably and it needed Bill’s magic touch to take it back to its former glory. This was achieved with several swimmers selected to represent their country and a Top Club trophy at the National Age Group Championships.
Having spent many years on his now famous ‘suntan’ it was now time for a new challenge and this meant heading north of the border to Scotland. Bill was tasked with restructuring competitive swimming at the City of Glasgow Swimming Club. He built this up to become one of Scotland’s leading clubs with several international swimmers.
2000 and Bill took up position as High Performance Swimming Coach on behalf of the Glasgow School of Sport linking up secondary education with sport, going on to win top school at the Scottish School Championships in 2003 and 2004 and producing several international swimmers including future Olympic medallist Michael Jamieson. Bill headed south in 2004 to Australia taking his Scottish team to the Commonwealth Youth Games where two of his School of Sports pupils won both gold and silver medals.
In 2005 Bill moved to Horsham to retire, but that was just the beginning of the next chapter in his life as he found himself taking the head role at Atlantis Swimming Club where he still coaches today at the young age of 75! Under his leadership the club has gone from strength to strength producing many outstanding and successful athletes at County, Regional and National level.
With over 60 senior and junior internationals, in 1985 honoured by the British Swimming Coaches Association for his outstanding contribution to the sport of swimming and now in 2016 inducted into their Hall of Fame….Bill said “The next time I retire it will be the last!”