We know the names of many sportsmen on the basis of their achievements. Others we remember because of their contributions to the sport. There are a select few, however, who are remembered for both their achievements and contributions to their sport. These latter individuals often seek to put back as much, or more, into the sport than they have ever taken from it. Michael Read, King of the Channel® for 21 years from 1979-2000 and from 2004 to date, is one such individual. His achievements are many and his contributions are simply reflected in his long list of activities as an Administrator.
The following letter-of-tribute to Michael Read is from Maurice Ferguson who was the General Secretary of the British Long Distance Swimming Association from 1995-2006.
"When I first started to try long distance swimming, it took me three years of being helped, lifted and carried away from everything I tried - which, at that time, were only three milers. In my second year, I was attempting to swim the three miles of our club (Warrington Dolphins) open championships, consisting of three circuits of Pickmere lake.
As I came around to pass the Start-and-Finish point, Michael passed me to complete his third lap as the winner. Too ashamed to climb out at the point where Michael just finished, I slowly plodded past the Start-Finish point, whilst about two hundred people were applauding Michael's achievement. Knowing that I could not complete another circuit, I swam to a small beach and stood up in about nine inches of water - and promptly fell down again. This process was repeated three times, after which I stayed on my hands and knees.
Only two people came to my aid - my 12-year-old daughter came with a cup of Bovril for her Dad - but was trapped by the water on the shoreline. The other person was Michael. He left all of the applause and congratulations, ran round to where I was struggling with my legs, and headed straight into the water to help me stand up. He held me until I gained my balance, and then helped me to the edge of the water - and my daughter's waiting cup of Bovril ! He stayed for a short while until he was sure I could manage on my own - and then he left.
I don't know if he would remember the incident, but it is one I have never forgot."
Maurice Ferguson, General Secretary, BLDSA, May 2001
Maurice and his son, Simon, went on to complete a number of their own swimming achievements - and they have both become dedicated, volunteer supporters of Long Distance Swimming in Britain.