Grace Morton

Grace was the only child of John Morton and Margaret Goldie and was born in 1932 in Stirling.  She was brought up in a family surrounded by sportsmen. Her grandfather Hugh Goldie was a professional footballer with Hurlford, Celtic FC, Everton FC, Dundee, Hurlford and Morton.  Her uncles, again on her mothers side, also played professional football for Rangers, Kilmarnock and a host of other teams including Goodyear in America.  Her mother could also be seen every home game supporting the local football team, Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

So it was of no surprise when Grace took up and became a very successful swimmer with the club.  Grace first learned to swim at the Kilmarnock Academy baths when she was only 5 years of age. She was allowed in because her mother’s cousin was the school janitor.

She joined the swimming club after WW II and during her short swimming career of some 8 years she became a club champion. She was first and foremost a breast stroke swimmer and as such gained some notoriety. She took part in the British Olympic Games trials in Blackpool, England for the 1952 games in Helsinki, like a large number of Kilmarnock Swimmers, and would have gained selection outright if she had beaten Eleanor Gordon in a swim off. Sadly this was not to be as the Games Council only had the finances for one swimmer to take part in Breast Stroke 100 yards for the Games and therefore did not make the team.

Grace also took part in the Clubs Synchronised Swimming and Display Team and can be seen below in the old Kilmarnock Pool being of all things a yacht.

She was also part of the five strong Kilmarnock ASC ladies team which won the Scottish Women’s Relay Championships.  This was also the youngest ever team to win such an event with the average age of the team being only 17 years.

Two years later she retired from the competitive side of the sport and married one of her fellow swimmers, Harry Stewart, in 1953.  Although no longer involved in that side of the sport she still gave great support to all swimmers of the club.

Grace became a qualified Swimming Teacher in the mid sixties and since then has taught literally hundreds of local children to swim. Even ones who have never been a member of the Club.  In later life she supported her two boys, John and Andrew in there sporting exploits and also became a member of the Committee and held several positions within it, namely secretary and coach.

In the 1970s she became involved in the Kilmarnock Town Twinning Programme and was responsible for the Club competing against the likes of Kulmbach (Germany), Alez (France) and Lurgan (Ireland).

After the death of her husband, Harry, in 1991 she presented two cups to the Club, The Harry Stewart Memorial Trophies, which are competed for every year and presented by her to the best improved swimmer, male and female at the Clubs annual Championships in December, something that gives her great joy.  Grace, although, no longer involved with the Club directly, she still teaches swimming every Sunday at the Galleon Centre even at the ripe old age of 81!

 

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