A VETERAN swimming coach from Weymouth - who trained numerous people towards cross-Channel swimming success - has died

Tom Watch, who made headlines throughout his life for his training success stories, died on February 9 at the age of 92.

Over a decades long career, Mr Watch oversaw numerous athletes who took on gargantuan swimming challenges - most notably those who braved the 21 miles swim across the English Channel.

Tom Watch was born in 1928 as the third child in a family of twelve. He spent his formative years in Weymouth and went to Holy Trinity School.

He spent his life deeply enthusiastic about fitness and swimming. Best known for training budding athletes to undertake the herculean challenge of swimming across the English Channel, he received awards for his efforts including the Echo-Rothmans Service to Sport Award in 1978.

But his triumphs as a swimming coach were not limited to the Channel by any means.

In 1987, he coached swimmers for a 16 mile race in the Suez Canal from Devensoir to Ismailia as well as a lake swim in Canada the following year.

One of his biggest claims to fame also came in 1987, when he received a congratulations letter from Senator Edward Kennedy after helping a Boston man complete a crossing.

In the letter, the Senator praised Mr Watch and called him an "Ambassador of friendship."

Mr Watch also worked as a postman for more than 24 years. He started his job at the Post Office in August 1964 and stayed with the organisation until his eventual retirement in 1988.

He continued to coach more swimmers after his retirement from the Post Office until 2001, when he took his last bow by training one final swimmer.

This swim marked a special moment - it took place exactly 50 years to the day that the first swimmer he ever trained for the Channel crossing set off from France.

His final trainee ended up completing the stretch in the quickest time for an English woman that year, taking on the challenge in 14 hours.