Family remembers teacher Frank who taught many how to swim
- Credit: Supplied
A popular swimming teacher who was instrumental in teaching children at Royston Swimming Club has died at the age of 92.
Frank Streek, who was born in 1928, taught children at the Meridian School swimming pool in the 1970s and 1980s.
Born Albert Francis Streek, Frank passed the 11-plus exam with ease which gained him entry to Northampton Grammar School for Boys.
According to his family and friends, he was equally at home in the chemistry lab as in the library as well as being a keen swimmer who made the school team - a skill which would come into use later in life.
Frank excelled in maths and physics, which - after conscription to the army - enabled him to enrol at Birmingham University to study engineering. However, once there he found the advanced course too tough, and instead found work as a draughtsman at industrial equipment supplier Baker Perkins, while continuing to study engineering at a vocational level.
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Along with his love of engineering, Frank also enjoyed rally car navigation and filming on his 88mm cine camera, which accompanied him to Egypt, Palestine, Greece and Germany while he was in the army, accumulating over 265 years' worth of footage.
After leaving Baker Perkins, Frank moved from Northampton to Meldreth with his Italian wife Gabriella and their two children, Daniella and David.
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There he found work at Royston British Soya Mill, and soon made himself known at Meridian Swimming Pool after enrolling his children into Royston Swimming Club.
His son David Streek can recall having his first lesson, and then his father taking over teaching the class as the club fell short of instructors. He ended up constructing new starting blocks and installing large clocks for the swimmers to race against.
Norma King - formerly of the Crow - was club secretary, and her sons Ian, Paul and Mark joined Daniella and David as well as many other children from Royston and surrounding villages.
David said: "At the end of each Wednesday night meeting, if we had trained well, we could have a 'play time', with several relay race type games involving climbing up and diving from the platform.
"Invariably the platform would have four or five swimmers fighting to reach the top in order to win the race back to the shallow end.
"All of these games were orchestrated and controlled by dad in his black army-issue tracksuit and stainless steel whistle.
"His enthusiasm for the club was such that he invested more of his time in self-development by becoming a member and eventually head coach of the Amateur Swimming Association."
Frank also implemented 'early morning training' each Monday and Friday before school, which meant Daniella and David had to set their alarms for 5.30am.
David said: "On one of these days it was snowy and the drive into Royston from the family home was treacherous, but that didn't stop Dad from his commitment to the other swimmers who attended and lived more locally.
"Also it gave him the opportunity to introduce new training components, which required the swimmers to run outside from the pool and roll in the snow before completing the warm up.
"Frank, Norma and other parents who gave so much of their time and energy between them saw the swimming club improve its stature among other much larger clubs such as Stevenage and Hitchin."
Sadly over time the older swimmers left, leaving the younger swimmers - such as David Streek, who was aged 12 or 13 - to race against 16 and 17-year-olds in the monthly galas.
When the pool was rebuilt Royston Swimming Club disbanded, and Frank started teaching English as a foreign language in Cambridge, mainly to Chinese and Hungarian students.
According to David, when the family were with Frank in Royston they grew used to people approaching him saying "you taught me to swim" - which always made Frank amused at how much time had passed by.
Frank and Gaby moved to be closer to their daughter in Lower Cambourne around 10 years ago. Frank died suddenly at home last month of a heart attack, while sitting in the garden drinking coffee and watching birds on the newly installed bird feeder.
David and Daniella said that at 92 years old their dad never liked to talk about 'what happens next', preferring to live in the now, but that they "like to think he has found new people to teach to swim, wherever he may now be".