A WIBSEY-born woman has told how she went from a Commonwealth bronze medallist to working as a VIP protection officer in the police.
Helen Gilyard won a bronze medal in the 4×100-metre medley relay and a British record in the 1978 Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Canada, during a glittering swimming career on the international stage.
She also revealed she enjoyed 10 years on the beat in Bradford, working as a police officer once she retired from the pool.
She says one of her biggest regrets from her swimming career was not being included in the Great Britain squads for the 1976 and 1980 Olympics.
Miss Gilyard went on to work for West Yorkshire Police and also for the fire arms unit in the county, guarding high-profile figures, including members of the Royal family, and other dignitaries. She also says she was better during shooting practice than the male officers.
After a rich and varied career, she now opts for the quiet life, taking in walks around the district.
The 59-year-old said: “Looking back at my swimming career, I achieved quite a lot considering I came from a local club and only did one hour’s training a day at first. All the other swimmers were training before and after school.
I travelled the world. I made friends for life. It was an absolute honour to represent my country
“I used to beat Sharron Davies in training. I was friends with Duncan Goodhew too.
“I got a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. My biggest achievement in swimming was my British record
“When I was 18 I decided to quit the sport, but 18 was considered old to be swimming back then, it isn’t now.
“I competed in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.
“I worked as a police officer in Bradford for 10 years and then became a community support officer.
I really enjoyed my time in the police. I liked helping people
“I felt like I wanted to give back by being in the police. I helped out vulnerable people.
“I was the sort of person who if they did something, I would do it properly.
“The one thing I got out of all of it was the people I met. I just have happy memories.
“It was all interesting. I like to have a quiet life now. I like to go walking.”
During her career in the pool she also represented Great Britain at the World Championships in 1978 in the 100m backstroke and medley relay teams.
Initially from Beacon Baracuda in Bradford, Miss Gilyard won a string of national titles and competed at international level, winning many medals.
She then won a bursary to Millfield School in Somerset where she won her Commonwealth medal.
She represented her country at least 20 times. winning gold medals in Switzerland, Luxembourg.
Also competed around the world in America, Canada, Russia, Paris, Oslo, Czechoslovakia, Geneva, Luxembourg, and Germany.