Meet Bournemouth resident Dorothy Williams who has brought home a gold medal from the European Masters Championships recently held at London Aquatics Centre over 25-29 May 2016. This was for 50 metres backstroke in the 90-94 age category which Dorothy smashed in just 1 minute 11.05 seconds.

Dorothy has an amazing backstory of Masters competitive swimming, which has taken her all over the world. Before this competition though she hadn’t swum competitively for eight years.

She had had a series of health setbacks which put the brakes on competing. Now approaching her 93rd birthday this year, her love of swimming combined with the dogged determination that is deep-rooted in competitive sportspeople, she started training again at Stokewood Leisure Centre in Bournemouth.

After just 10 consecutive lane training sessions Dorothy went to the European Masters Championships in May and brought home the gold.

Describing her experience, Dorothy says,

“The atmosphere was awesome – it was just like Wembley on a cup final night only bigger. There were 10,000 competitors and the marshals, organisers and stewards all did a fantastic job from 7am in the morning right through until midnight.”

She adds,

“I truly think swimming is magic – nothing hurts in the water and it is so beneficial both mentally and physically. Having taught swimming for more than twenty years and approaching 93 this year, I know that you are never too old to get lessons and enjoy the benefits of being in the water. It really can help in every way.”

It seems that swimming runs in the family and only recently her great grandson aged 10 years old won a silver medal for his 25 metres freestyle. Her son is also a keen sportsman.

Dorothy is also an artist and has exhibited work at Bournemouth International Centre as part of the local SHARDS exhibition.

John Davies, Centre Manager at Stokewood said,

“Dorothy is a truly inspirational lady and a great example of how being active throughout life can have such a positive and long lasting effect. We are delighted to share Dorothy’s story which will hopefully inspire more people or all ages and abilities to take to the water and see what they can achieve.”

A snapshot of Dorothy’s swimming history

  • Won junior championships aged just 11 then had a break during her twenties to have a family.
  • Started swimming again aged 31 in Hounslow and two years later she was on the swimming and lifesaving committee.
  • In 1962 Dorothy started teaching and remained doing so for more than 20 years.
  • Dorothy retired in 1986 and did part time driving for Hertz as a courtesy bus driver. She still taught people how to swim on a part time basis.
  • Aged 67 a friend talked Dorothy into competing in the Fowey estuary competition in Cornwall. Inspired by this, Dorothy contacted the ASA to see what competitions where available for older swimmers. She was just in time for the 1st GB Masters in 1987 and won two silvers for 50 metres backstroke and breaststroke in the 60-64 age category. This was the start of her Masters journey and she has travelled all over the world to compete including Rio, Montreal, Florence and Denmark. She achieved two golds and a silver medal in Rome in 1988.
  • In 2008 Dorothy broke two world records in the 85-89 age category in Guernsey for the 100 and 200 metre breast stroke.


Notes to Editors:


Dorothy Williams with her gold medal at Stokewood, Bournemouth where she trained for European Masters Championships which was held at London Aquatics Centre during 25-29 May 2016.

For more information about BH Live or Stokewood Leisure Centre please contact:

Elizabeth Symmons, PR & Corporate Communications Executive, BH Live E: T: (01202) 451866

About BH Live

BH Live is the South Coast’s leading operator of leisure and event venues – a social enterprise that designs and builds engaging experiences to inspire people and enrich lives.

With nearly three million visits a year and £35 million turnover, the organisation is changing lives and is at the heart of the UK’s growing social economy.

In 2014/15, BH Live hosted more than 400 shows, sold over half a million cultural, sporting and entertainment tickets, clocked up 2.2 million leisure centre visits and welcomed 93,000 conference and exhibition delegates. An estimated £48.5 million was also generated for the local economy. For more visit

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About Stokewood

Stokewood is managed and operated by BH Live in partnership with Bournemouth Borough Council.

This community leisure facility, in the Winton/Charminster area of Bournemouth, started out as a public baths in 1930.

It now has a 22.8-metre swimming pool, sauna, an aerobics studio running more than 70 weekly fitness classes, a spin studio and gym with personal training. The centre is home to local sports clubs for triathlon, water polo, lifeguard training, karate and other activities. Popular for pool parties, swimming lessons with Bournemouth Swimming Academy and local schools, the centre attracts over 5,000 visits a week.

Stokewood Leisure Centre is Quest-accredited and enjoys excellent relationships with local community groups, Bournemouth University, colleges and local schools. For more visit

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