Rhyl Dolphins Swimming Club has paid tribute to inspirational former Head Coach Gerald Hay, who has passed away following a short illness.

Known as Gez he was a mentor to thousands of swimmers across Rhyl through the Dolphins, including multiple gold medal-winning British Transplant Swimming Team star Rowena Thomas-Breese MBE. Before joining Rhyl Dolphins he spent many years coaching at Holywell Amateur Swimming Club in Flintshire.

Throughout his life he dedicated himself to ensuring generations of swimmers achieved their full sporting potential.

Since the news of his passing, the club's executive committee has been  reflecting on the significant impact Gez had made on the lives of many young swimmers across the region.

"Gez touched the lives of many, which was clearly evident given the outpouring of grief and tributes on various social media sites from swimmers past and present, parents and friends," it said in a statement. 

"Gez was a hugely inspirational coach and mentor to thousands over the years. He was committed, dedicated, caring and honest, one of a kind and an amazing coach and mentor. 

"He always showed total commitment to Rhyl Dolphins. His attention to detail was second to none. Gez wanted every swimmer to achieve their full potential and did not accept anything less than 100% commitment from each one of them every time they entered the pool.  

"Thanks to the work ethic he instilled in them, many swimmers achieved great success at local, county, national and international events. Every swimmer he coached has learned valuable life lessons during training sessions, as well as improving their swimming skill. For many, if not all of them, those lessons have stayed with them throughout their lives."

Gez, was given a lifetime membership to Rhyl Dolphins in recognition of his service in December 2012 and in 2015 he was nominated for - and won - the Denbighshire Lifetime Achievement Award.

That same year he was recognised by Sport Wales at an award ceremony in Cardiff.

Over eight years he organised a number of fundraising 12-hour swimathons  which raised more than £30,000. This was not only to benefit the club, but also charities including St Kentigern’s Hospice, the British Heart Foundation, North Wales Air Ambulance, the Love, Hope & Strength Foundation, Spinal Research and the Autistic Society.

Gez retired as Head Coach in October 2017 but remained involved as Club President and later Club Chair, working in the background and and continuing to help poolside when he was needed. 

"Coaches like Gez come along once in a lifetime," added the club. "He was a truly unique individual and his legacy will live on through swimming. He will be truly missed by all that had the privilege to know him over the many years he was involved in swimming."

One of Gez' wishes was to leave a legacy for swimming in Rhyl and for donations in his memory to go to the club. A Justgiving page has been set up here for contributions: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Gez-RhylDolphins.