Glasgow & West Scotland

Hero grandad rescues Commonwealth Games legend from swimming pool

Lachie Stewart
Image caption Lachie Stewart won gold at the Commonwealth Games

A 78-year-old West Dunbartonshire grandad has become a hero after coming to the rescue of a former Olympian.

Benjamin Scullion, 78, pulled Lachie Stewart, 75, from the bottom of a swimming pool when the Commonwealth Games gold medallist fell unconscious in the water.

Benjamin's quick thinking saved the sporting legend who is now recovering in hospital.

Lachie Stewart won gold for Scotland at the 1970 Commonwealth Games.

The incident happened at The Meadow Centre swimming pool in Dumbarton on 2 July.

Retired shipyard boiler-maker Benjamin told the BBC: "I've known Lachie for a while, mostly from the baths. We'd have a chat when we met at the pool.

"I was doing my usual number of lengths and remember he was at the other end of the pool. I was chatting to someone and I don't know what happened but he just disappeared."

Image caption Benjamin Stewart swam to the bottom of the swimming pool when he saw his friend there

Usually, Lachie would tell Benjamin he was off and give him a wave, but Benjamin just thought he had left the pool and got off quickly.

But when Benjamin swam to the other end, he realised something was wrong.

He said: "I was fixing my goggles, then I put my head under the water and I saw him, lying at the bottom of the pool."

Benjamin knew something was wrong because Lachie did not usually go into the deep end.

"I went under and he was a dead weight. I had to pull his hair to grab him and get him to the surface and to the side of the pool."

The pool lifeguards took over, getting him out of the water and using a defibrillator. Paramedics arrived afterwards and took him to hospital.

Lachie is now recovering in hospital in Paisley.

His son, Glen Stewart, said: "He'll be in hospital for a couple of weeks to have a bypass and a valve replacement.

"He's aware of what happened and what the people did at the Meadow Centre. I think when he gets out he'll be going to give his thank yous."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lachie Stewart (far right) in action in 1970

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: "Lifeguards, assisted by a swimmer, removed a man from the water before giving him CPR and using the onsite defibrillator.

"Staff train regularly for this type of incident and we are proud of their actions, along with the swimmer's contribution, which helped save this man's life."

Benjamin hopes to see Lachie make a full recovery: "It was daunting to see that. To think he was under for all that time it took me to swim a length.

"I hope he comes back to the pool when he is recovered and I hope the scare doesn't put him off."

Distance runner Lachie, from Bonhill in Dunbartonshire, is an inductee in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

His athletic career saw him compete at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, where he won gold in the 10,000 metres.

He also competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

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