A LEGENDARY open air swimmer aged 94 who conquered some of the toughest waters across the country and inspired generations of youngsters has been hailed for his remarkable achievements after he packed his goggles away for the last time.

Greenock Telegraph: Bob McGaughey

Bob McCaughey was one of the driving forces behind the Gourock Amateur Swimming Club, which ran lifesaving classes as well as swimming galas and competitions.

The veteran sportsman won the Dunoon to Gourock Clyde swim and was invited to meet the late Queen in recognition of his work giving adults with disabilities the opportunity to swim through the Greenock Otters.

His lifetime connection is being highlighted by fellow former club president John Howieson and Provost Drew McKenzie.

Thanks to the hard work of John and other volunteers, the achievements of Bob and his counterparts will now be preserved for posterity at a display in the Watt Institution.

Bob, who lives in Eldon Street with wife Beatrice, 90, said: "I only stopped swimming a year ago, when I was 93, under doctor's orders. Before that I still liked a swim in the Gourock Outdoor Pool.

"It was always open air swimming I loved. To me it was just swimming though, that is what we did. There are very few open air pools left in Scotland now."

Bob first found a love for the water before the war and after returning from National Service with the air force in 1948 he became increasingly involved in the swimming club.

He said: "In the early years that it opened we used to have clean out all the seaweed before we started swimming."

Over the years there were many trophies with Bob's name on them. A particular favourite was the Sunday Express Dunoon to Gourock swim, a race which he won a number of times.

But Bob also went further afield, competing in a tough swim in Torquay and another at Lake Windermere.

He added: "In the 1950s I started to go round the country and I enjoyed that very much. I always liked the distance swimming."

Bob even found himself making a surprise appearance in the programme Repair Shop. The son of a former winner of a Clyde Swim was on the hit TV show up to get his trophy restored to its former glory.

He showed a photograph from 1953 and there was Bob, standing behind him having finished in second place.

Bob added: "I couldn't believe it sitting in my living room watching and there I was on the television!"

Later on his competing gave way to coaching from the side of the pool, as his family grew with first daughter Alison, then twins Robert and Morven.

But the former gas board engineer continued to dedicate much of his life to the swimming club in different roles as president and coach and running the life saving classes at the old St Columba's School pool.

Bob added: "The  club kept going until the St Columba's closed and we couldn't find anywhere else suitable. It was a real shame."

As well as Gourock Amateurs, Bob has also been involved in the Otters, first in Port Glasgow and then Greenock.

And he was invited to Buckingham Palace at the invitation of the Queen in recognition of his voluntary work.

When former club members including Mr Howieson recently launched a bid to reclaim all the club trophies for a collection in the Watt Institution, they were keen for Bob to be recognised.

John said: "Bob is a figurehead for Gourock Amateur Swimming Club and a remarkable man with great stories.

"He won the Dunoon to Gourock race at least three times, and sometimes he even swam over there to go and complete!"