ACCRINGTON Swimming Club's chief coach Chris McKean admitted he was "shocked" after being crowned Lancashire Coach of the Year at Ewood Park last Friday.
Chris had won the Hyndburn award in July and had a hard act to follow as he went for the county prize at Blackburn Rovers FC.
In the last two years Hyndburn Athletic Club's Norman Mitchell and Accrington rugby league coach Anthony "Axel" Foley have won Hyndburn awards and gone on to clinch the Lancashire ones - so Chris was looking to make it a hat-trick... and succeeded.
"I was shocked," admitted the 37-year-old window cleaner, who has been involved with the club for 10 years.
"It was up against football, athletics and other swimming coaches and I never expected to get it.
"It was still sat down with 10 others from the swimming club and when my name was announced, I just sat there stunned and the rest of the table were telling me to go up and collect it!
"It was a good achievement for me but I was more pleased for the club and the town, and especially Ted Watson who has been at the club for around 55 years and got me involved.
"I just felt humble as there were a lot of really good coaches up for the awards. I was just lucky."
Chris, who was nominated for the Hyndburn award by parents and children from the club, got involved with the swimming club 10 years ago because he had "time on his hands."
"Soon after I got there, the club was in debt and was on the brink of going under.
"But now we have built it back up. We have got money in the bank, we are going to treat the kids at Christmas and we are competing strongly again. We have 159 members and are full although we will never turn anyone away.
"The emphasis is on enjoyment, the children should always have a smile on their face, but we are now starting to see children come through."
Chris, who coaches two nights a week on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as twice on Saturdays, has gone on various coaching courses and has now got high hopes for the club.
"We have one boy, Christian Brown, in the East Lancashire Gallica squad, we have 10-years-olds who have got the national qualifying times but can't compete yet because they need to be 11 and our team finished second to Burnley in the Friendly League - and beat Todmorden in a gala this week.
"But it is not all about competition, we have ladies and men who come as well to keep fit as well as swimmers from all ethnic backgrounds. We want a friendly club with a good atmopshere and that is what we have got."
Chris, who has also taken swimming teams to the Lancashire Youth Games and has come back with gold, silver and bronze medals, has now set higher targets for Accrington SC.
"When I joined I just wanted to get the club on an even keel and start to do well. We have done that and now I want to see the swimmers get better and better, perhaps get promotion and just keep improving."
Assistant Sports Development Officer George Cull said: "For Hyndburn to win the Lancashire Coach of the Year for three years running, is a testament to the drive and determination of the local people who give their time freely to help young people take part in sport.
"Chris has been an outstanding ambassador for swimming and has helped to save a club that was on the verge of folding and turn it into a club that has plenty of volunteers and a thriving junior membership.
"He was nominated by parents of his swimmers which shows how highly he is valued. He has ensured the club accept any members regardless of their background, and he has also gone on the produce Lancashire swimmers."
Chris wasn't the only Hyndburn award winner as the Grange Bowling Club, from Clayton-le-Moors, received a County Commendation in the Community Club of the Year award. This was the second awards ceremony they had attended that day after a trip to Hull where they were nominated for an award from Biffaward.
It is a further feather in the cap of a club who provide a social and recreational outlet for so many members of the community and call themselves 'recycled teenagers'.
"We were thrilled to get the Hyndburn award so it was nice to be now recognised by Lancashire as well," said club secretary Laurie Denton.
"We do a lot of work in the community especially with senior citizens. We have 110 members and they come up for a game of bowls or just a cup of coffee and a chat. They enjoy it and it is a social club as well as a bowls club."
The other award winners that attended the evening from Hyndburn were Allan Phillipson, who won Hyndburn's Young Volunteer of the Year Award and Ted Watson and Pat Baron who have dedicated over 100 years to teaching and developing sport in Hyndburn and were recipients of a Special Recognition Award.
Also in attendance was talented badminton player Philip Aspinall, who was Hyndburn's Rising Star for the year. All winners were sent a personal message from Blackpool football legend Jimmy Arnfield who thanked them for the work they do to encourage participation in sport in Lancashire.
Chris will now be put forward to the North West region SportsCoach UK (SCUK) awards.
- ACCRINGTON Swimming Club welcomes ages fom five upwards. If anyone wants to join the club, turn up at 7pm on a Monday night for an assessment. However, for the next three weeks, the club is having its gala night so no assessments will be available until after that.