Olympic speaker Steve Parry is a retired British Olympian butterfly swimmer who competed internationally in 100-metre and 200-metre butterfly distances and claimed a number of medals in this discipline, including at the Olympics. As one of Britain’s greatest ever swimmers, he retired at the top of his game after winning an Olympic bronze medal in 2004 – the country’s first swimming medal in eight years.
Steve’s story begins in Liverpool, city of his birth in 1977. From an early age he enjoyed swimming, joining a club in Woolton but progressing to bona fide teams like the Liverpool Penguins and City of Liverpool. He started training seriously when he was 12 years of age, and at 16 he qualified for the European Junior Championships, going on to win it the following year.
At 18 years of age, Steve left the UK to attend Florida State University, studying marketing and finance alongside his swimming. The Olympic speaker excelled during his time in the United States, winning the NCAA title in the 200 m butterfly. After returning to Britain and joining Stockport Metro, he set a Commonwealth record at the 2000 US Nationals in Seattle, beating, among others, a very young Michael Phelps. Later that year he qualified for his first Olympic Games in Sydney.
He bagged an impressive 10 medals between 1997 and 2004, including a gold at the 2002 European Championships in Riesa and a Commonwealth silver in 2002 in Manchester, just a few miles from his home city, but his Olympic medal is his greatest competitive achievement.
Following retirement, the Olympic speaker set up Total Swimming, a company that brings temporary pool facilities to children in deprived areas across Britain – he is particularly keen on all children learning to swim as early as possible because of his own narrow escape from drowning at the age of nine. In 2009, Steve was diagnosed with cancer only four weeks after getting married, but following treatment he was soon given the all clear. He is now an ambassador for Cancer Research UK and in 2011 teamed up with Richard Branson, Ronan Keating and other celebrities to swim the Irish Sea. The effort generated £300,000 for charity.
Articulate and coherent throughout his appearances, he is a charismatic and proud athlete who is determined to support and nurture athletes with the same intrinsic drive to succeed as he discovered. His values and traits as an athlete mentor and television personality translate over to his suitability as an Olympic speaker.
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