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Maureen Simpson: NI swimming star was at 1972 Munich Olympics


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Maureen Simpson, who sadly passed away

Maureen Simpson, who sadly passed away

Maureen in the pool

Maureen in the pool

Maureen Simpson, who sadly passed away

A Northern Ireland champion swimmer who was part of the Irish team at the 1972 Munich Olympics has passed away at the age of 90.

Maureen Simpson (nee Lloyd), who died last Sunday, enjoyed a long career as a noted swimmer, coach and official on the domestic and international swimming scene.

Her funeral was held in accordance with the lockdown regulations and a thanksgiving service will take place at a later date.

The sportswoman, who was born in 1929 in Bangor, Co Down, learned to swim in the seaside resort's Pickie pool, before discovering it was her passion while attending Sullivan Upper Grammar.

Her skill and speed saw her win nine individual Irish titles - including the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, as well as four national relay titles between 1948 and 1952 - for Bangor Amateur Swimming Club.

Following school, Mrs Simpson studied to be an architect at Belfast Art college, where she met her husband, Hugo. The couple went on to have three children.

As a qualified architect, she worked for the Northern Ireland Sports Council, advising on new facilities and used her first-hand knowledge of competitive swimming - coupled with her technical expertise - in assisting her husband in the design of the first indoor swimming pool to open in Bangor in 1979.

Mrs Simpson spent more than three decades then working in the coaching, development and administration of swimming.

She helped coach Bangor in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as leading a series of international Irish teams in Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Iceland as team manager.

Mrs Simpson was a swimming official with the Irish Olympic team at Munich in 1972 - two years after she became president of the Ulster Swimming Branch.

She then became the first women president of the Irish Amateur Swimming Association, now Swim Ireland, in 1979.

In a statement, Swim Ireland paid tribute to Mrs Simpson, saying the Northern Ireland woman had had an important impact in shaping the sport on the island of Ireland.

"Swim Ireland were very sorry to hear of the passing of champion swimmer Maureen Simpson this past weekend," it read.

"President of Swim Ireland in 1979, Maureen was firstly a 200m and 400m Freestyle national champion over a number of years, before going on to play an integral role in the development of our sport in Ireland across many decades; she volunteered in a number of key roles including coaching with Bangor SC, education officer, team manager and official with Team Ireland swimmers in Munich in 1972. Our thoughts are with Maureen's family and all who knew her as this time."

Tributes have also been paid by Bangor Swimming Club, which said it was saddened to hear of her passing.

"Maureen was a long-term coach and chairperson and sat on the Swim Ireland board. Our condolences go out to her family at this time," it read.

Mrs Simpson was predeceased by her husband, Hugo in 2016. She is survived by her children, Shelley, Karen and Conrad, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and wider family circle.

Belfast Telegraph