Beloved teacher a champion in and out of the pool
WHEN one of the finest all-round athletes to be born in Kyogle visited the Lismore Memorial Baths on Sunday, she was warmly greeted by staff and swimmers alike.
Beryl Joyce Wotherspoon, 91, may be a year older than the Baths where she and her husband Ding taught swimming for decades, but the former Lismore High School sports mistress has lost none of her wit or love of all things aquatic.
Mrs Wotherspoon said she greatly admired the modern swimmers of today
"In 1950 I won the NSW 110 yards title in 1:11, which is pretty slow these days,” she said.
"I swam the 200 yards in 2:50 and also won a 50 yard handicap.”
At the Baths Mrs Wotherspoon met some members of the Lismore Diggers Memorial Swimming Club, where several recalled being taught to swim by her husband.
While chatting, she recalled many of the swimmers' parents and relations, as they asked her about her own career in and out of the pool.
"Ding and I used to just about live here,” she said looking at the revamped facility.
"We would teach here in the early mornings and then in 1972 I joined the NSW Department of Education's Swim Scheme in Lismore.”
Mrs Wotherspoon taught at the Swim Scheme until 1986 and several of her fellow instructors were her former students.
Born in Kyogle in 1927, Mrs Wotherspoon won many Country Championships in swimming and diving.
She represented New South Wales in swimming and diving, softball where she played shortstop and also represented the region in netball.
In the 70s she won many lawn bowls championships with the Lismore City Women's' Bowling Club.
An inspiring teacher, in 1949 Mrs Wotherspoon appointed as the physical education and sports mistress at Lismore High School, where she was regarded as a great favourite with the students.
She and Ding Wotherspoon were engaged in 1950 after she said yes in a New England Motor Company bus while returning from a Far North Coast swimming carnival at Murwillumbah.
They married in 1951 and she retired from teaching full-time in 1956 before the first of their two children came along.
But Mrs Wotherspoon was soon back umpiring sporting fixtures at the school on Wednesday afternoons, with her first-born and then his sister in a pram as she continued the work she loved.
"I always had a passion for swimming,” she said.
"I was thrilled when in 2005 I joined Scott Brockenshire and Dr Richard Opie to swim the first official lap when the new and improved Lismore Memorial Baths opened.”