A CUMBRIAN sporting legend returned to the county last weekend to present a newly-rediscovered trophy to the best swimmer in Cumbria.

Former Olympic swimmer, Wendy Burrell, 71, awarded the trophy named after her to Amber Rigg (Cockermouth SC) who amassed 150 individual championship points in front of 500 fellow competitors and spectators at the county championships at Workington baths.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: Amber Rigg receiving the Wendy Burrell Trophy Amber Rigg receiving the Wendy Burrell Trophy (Image: Supplied)The trophy was last awarded in 1980 but went missing before being rediscovered in the storeroom of the old James Street swimming baths in Carlisle ahead of its demolition.

The Wendy Burrell trophy had previous been given out for greatest achievement by a swimmer under the age of 21 in Cumberland and has a history of more than 50 years, having been donated by the former editor of the Cumberland News, Colin Dobson.

“We knew the trophy existed from some work we did last year because we were 100 years old,” said Cumbria Swimming executive member, Ian Richardson.

“We had been doing some research to try and get some more information about the trophy and it turned up when they cleaned out the old storeroom at the James Street baths which was absolutely amazing.

Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette: The Wendy Burrell Trophy The Wendy Burrell Trophy (Image: Supplied)“When we discovered it, that sort of prompted us to do some more work and we thought that we should reintroduce the trophy and have the trophy refurbished."

Wendy and her sister, Debbie Walker, who is an ex-Carlisle Secondary Swimmer, were guests of honour along with former county presidents Jim Messenger and Terry Lambert for the Sunday afternoon relay events.

This saw the presentation to Cockermouth SC of the Cumbria and Tommy Hatch trophies for the best performing teams in both the 2024 County Championship and Age Group Events.

As part of the presentation Wendy herself was given the honour of becoming the first inductee into the Cumbria Swimming Hall of Fame, which was established by the county as part of its 100-year celebrations in 2023.

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Wendy was presented her award by current county president Rosie Huggon and Jim Messenger from the county recognition panel. On receipt of her award, Wendy addressed a packed pool to share her memories of her swimming career including appearing at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Cumbria Swimming Association following its transition from the Cumberland and Westmorland Swimming Association in 1974 following the county boundary changes.

Building on the success of the 100-year events last year, which included the 2023 festival of swimming, plans are afoot for a similar event to celebrate the occasion in July.