Rio Olympic’s double medallist Jazz Carlin was given an ecstatic welcome home from 60 members of her former swimming club Swindon Tigersharks at Link Centre on 12 September.
Wearing her silver medals won in the 400 and 800 freestyle, the guard of honour formed by the youngsters aged 8 to 17 briefly reduced her to tears before composing herself to pass out the medals, chat to club members and pose for snaps.
The homecoming complemented the club send-off for Jazz in July before she set off for Brazil with the other Team GB swimmers.
Tigersharks head coach for the last 12 years, Lesley Jeffers, said: “It’s such a joy for Jazz to win medals at the world’s biggest event. She started with us in the learn to swim programme at the age of 5 and progressed from there.
“Although Jazz is now based with the elite GB squad at Bath University, she comes back to see as often as her commitments allow. It’s great that she sometimes trains with our swimmers to demonstrate how hard she works to achieve her success. What’s nice is that Jazz remains such a level headed nice person, an inspiration to all of us, in the pool and outside.
Parents Mary and Roger Carlin, from Grange Park, said they were still trying to come to terms with Jazz’s success a month after the competition. “We went to Rio to cheer the team and urge Jazz on to do her best in the heats and finals,” said Mary. “It was an incredible atmosphere, totally euphoric as the team won medals and Jazz improved her personal best times and came through in her events, so brilliant.”
Roger commented: “After the 400 metres Jazz was saying she felt under the weather during the heats of the 800 metres, but we knew she would be doing her best. In our eyes getting to the Olympics was a dream after her hopes were dashed before the London Olympics when she was diagnosed with glandular fever which had completely disrupted her training.”
Mary said Jazz had her tonsils removed in late 2012 and once she returned to training her talent emerged even more strongly with British records being broken, personal times improved, gold and silver medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the European Championships, and a bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Russia.
“It was a huge knock not to be able to be part of the London Olympics, but Jazz showed great character and determination to put that behind her, to show what she was capable of,” said Mary.
Jazz said: “I enjoy returning to my home town where I learnt to swim and my career began. I have so many people to be thankful for, my parents who have helped me in every way possible, the coaches in the club who have pushed me and all the volunteers who keep Tigersharks going as a successful club. I really could not have achieved what I have without them.”
Jazz, who celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday on 17 September, begins preparations for the 2017 World Championships at the end of September.