Brian DeVal – Regional President 2021 – 2022
I was bought up in Malaysia where I learnt to swim at the Selangor pool in Kaula Lumpa. On coming to England with my parents in 1959 my mother signed me up with Portsmouth Northsea SC.
This was before the Victoria Pool opened and we swam in a small pool in King Henry Street. One of my first experiences in the club was seeing an older gentleman swimming in a knitted costume! One Friday we were marched around the corner into the new Victoria Pool – My outstanding memory of the event was that the water was freezing.
My abilities improved and over time I made it to Southern Counties Championships at the Marylebone pool and later my first National’s in Blackpool.
Around 1982, when I was already working in Brighton, I woke on a Sunday morning and decided that I wanted a swim. Eventually I found Brighton Dolphin SC who were running a session in the Prince Regent Pool and asked to have a trial. I was the oldest in the pool by about 15 years.
I must have enjoyed the dip because the next week I returned and was joined by another chap and together we must have been amongst the first Masters in the area. I remain a regular swimmer and retain an ambition to swim again in Masters competition.
Masters competitions give me the same butterflies I had as a kid and I am still unable to start a race wearing goggles – I had a pair come off at the start when I was 14 and I lost the race!
Over time I took various teacher and coach qualifications with the club and ended up as club coach for a couple of years. I then took some technical official training and am now a level 2 judge.
During these years I also took on some volunteering roles on the club committee and later with Sussex County ASA where I took on the role of Development Manager and had the honour of being installed as President in 2011. I have been the Chair of Sussex County ASA since 2015.
Having spent most of my working life involved in various aspect of corporate communications I have taken a special interest in furthering the Region’s reach by helping develop tools to provide clubs, volunteers, athletes and stakeholders with easy access to essential information. To that end I led the re-development of the Region’s visual identity, website and social media activities as well as supporting our professional team by helping to put together the monthly Newsletter.
My subcommittee roles in the Region have included helping develop the Volunteering Strategy and Awards programme and I currently contribute to the group formulating the four-year Regional Strategy (2021-2025).
Away from the County and Region I am Secretary and a Trustee of the Swimming Trust.