Elenor's Olympic medal on display
Published Friday, 03 August 2012
A 1952 Olympics bronze medal is the focus of an exhibition celebrating the achievements of local swimmers Ken and Elenor McKay.
Called Something in the Water - the exhibition at Low Parks Museum - looks at the lives and triumphs of the Hamilton couple who did much of their training at the original Hamilton Swimming Baths, the site of which is now the Hamilton Water Palace.
Elenor won a bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, as well as five Commonwealth Games medals, masters championships and several local titles.
And Ken trained as a school teacher, trained as a fighter pilot and worked for ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) devising the famous Tufty Club. Ken won many local championships as well as amassing an impressive 168 Scottish masters titles.
Elenor's father, Gavin, was the amateur coach at the old Hamilton Baths but even then she still found it difficult to get training time in the pool back in the 1940s.
All of that changed however, when she became the first Scottish female in any sport to win a Commonwealth gold medal in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1950.
Elenor said: "Without the support and enthusiasm from my mum and dad, as well as all the staff at Hamilton baths, I don't think I would have got to Helsinki or anywhere else for that matter."
And her memories of that momentous achievement in Helsinki are still fresh in her mind. She said: "I have always been happy with the status my bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Games has brought me.
"I swam well in the heats - my best ever. And I did even better in the semi-finals.
"And I remember someone saying to me that I really had a chance of a medal. But I thought to myself - that's rubbish - how could I get an Olympic medal?
"But lo and behold I did, finishing behind two swimmers doing the butterfly, which was still included in the breast-stroke race despite it being a much faster stroke."
The small exhibition at Low Parks Museum, 129 Muir Street, Hamilton runs until December. For more information please go to the Low Parks Museum page.