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Timperley man met the Olympic team at an intimate training session
8:30am Thursday 26th July 2012 in Sport
A SWIMMER from Timperley had a lifelong dream come true when he met the Australian swimming team at an intimate training session in Manchester.
Paul Giannandrea, who moved to Trafford from Scotland in 1983, has been swimming for more than 40 years, a sport he fell in love with after watching the Australian team on television as a boy.
So when a friend told him about an intimate training session, being held at Manchester’s Aquatic Centre, the father-of-two leaped at the chance, dropping everything to attend.
Paul was one of 600 people who attended the event, and enjoyed a morning of backstrokes, butterflies and freestyle swimming.
As the spectators watched the Olympians swim up and down the pool, Paul struck up a conversation with the centre’s corporate events manager, Louise Barron.
Paul said: “I told her all about my love for swimming and how it had been the Australian team that had got me interested in the sport. That’s when she asked if I wanted to meet them – I couldn’t believe it.”
In what Paul describes as a “surreal moment”, he had coffee with the team and spent the rest of the morning talking to them about their preparations for the Olympics.
Among those to speak to him were freestyle swimmer James Magnussen and Jessicah Schipper, who competes in the butterfly competition.
“They told me what they’d had for breakfast and how welcome they felt being in Manchester.
“It was such a surreal moment, I’m still buzzing now. It’s been a 40-year-long dream to meet an Australian swimmer but to meet the whole team – wow!”
Having taken part in a 25,000 mile swimathon last year in aid of The Christie, Paul is no stranger to the challenges swimmers can face, albeit not on an Olympic scale.
Paul joked: “Swimming is a great way to keep fit. For every length I swim it’s one less pill I’m going to have to take in my life.”
Despite his love for the Australians, Paul insists he’ll still be supporting team GB throughout the games.