He’s the man who ran the world

Sport Aid founder Chris Long (centre back) with Putteridge Swimming Club chief coach Lesley Batson and coach Lawrence Palmer. Front, from left: Annie McLeod, Michael Rodgers and Eleanor McLeod
Sport Aid founder Chris Long (centre back) with Putteridge Swimming Club chief coach Lesley Batson and coach Lawrence Palmer. Front, from left: Annie McLeod, Michael Rodgers and Eleanor McLeod

And Chris Long, 62, the man behind the biggest mass participation event in world history – Run the World, involving 19 million people across 89 countries in 1986 – is looking forward to his new role.

The father-of-five said: “It may seem a long way from running the world to running Putteridge Swimming Club but I enjoy a challenge.

“I’ve always loved sport and joined Putteridge to learn to swim competitively. I made it to the European Masters Championships in London this year and realised what an amazing coach the club has.

“Lesley Batson has built it up to over 200 members. We have four swimmers in the Great Britain talent programme and we’re winning medals at local, regional and national levels.

“It’s a hugely successful club and I was initially asked to join the committee and then to become chairman.

“I hope we’ll produce some world class swimmers and I’m very proud of what we’re doing.”

For her part mother-of-four Lesley – who sidelined a thriving beauty therapy business to concentrate on the club – can’t believe her luck in having Chris on board.

“He’s got such a huge, strong background,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for anyone better.

“From a personality point of view, we’re on the same wavelength. Not everyone understands where I’m coming from, but Chris does.

“When I started coaching Putteridge were the underdogs, it was mentally very tough. No-one knew how to run the club. But Chris and I share the same vision. He’s taken the weight off my shoulders.”

Chris, who lives in Leagrave with partner Tracey Snoxell, now runs earthdive in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge. It’s a research project involving millions of recreational scuba divers around the world.

> Contact the club at info@putteridgesc.co.uk