HE was the colourful character who certainly caused a splash in his lifetime.

Southampton swimming star Alan Kimber taught countless youngsters to swim while his love for the sport also saw him represent Great Britain around the world.

Out of the pool, he also made the headlines – in particular when he was in the company of a Royal princess on the dancefloor.

Today tributes have been paid to the 63-year-old grandfather of eight who has died after losing a brief battle against cancer.

Mr Kimber had been admitted to hospital three weeks before his death on September 6, suffering from a sore back.

But following tests, doctors broke the news that the disease was at an advanced stage and there was little that could be done to help him.

Today his son Stuart spoke about the fun-loving and genuine father who was so well-known and loved by many.

Paying tribute the 36-year-old said: “He was a good man who did a lot for so many people. Swimming was his life until recent years when it had taken its toll on his knees and legs and he ended up being registered disabled. When I was young he not only taught me and my brothers and sister to swim but he would come into my school in Sholing as a volunteer and teach all the other kids too”.

Stuart is the second eldest of Mr Kimber’s five children – he had sons Anthony, 38, Ryan, 34 and Andrew, 25 as well as a daughter Ann who is 28.

Alan had been twice married and divorced and spent the last years of his life spending time on his own or with his family.

He began his swimming career at the age of 14 at Southampton Swimming Club, where he later coached, and was soon representing the country and nation across the world.

In 1966 he made it to the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica but was left disappointed after suffering from tonsillitis and ranking in fifth and sixth place in the freestyle and individual medley races.

But it was there that his antics out of the pool caught the headlines – when Mr Kimber, then aged just 17, spent an hour dancing with Princess Anne to Jamaican music.

A week later he was back breaking records when he qualified in the European championships 1500m freestyle and set a new British and European record.

Overall, during seven years of top class swimming, he swam in 35 international contests and won 13 national titles until he was stripped of his place in the British team for causing a noisy disturbance in Edinburgh while the Great Britain Swimming Committee was in session.

Only two years earlier Mr Kimber had been left out of the team for the Mexico Olympic Games after being convicted of shoplifting.

But Stuart said his funeral would be an opportunity to celebrate the life of a special man. He said: “Dad was a legend, not just in the pool but as a person and he is going to be hugely missed.”

  • Mr Kimber’s funeral will take place on Thursday at 1pm at Wessex Vale crematorium in Botley. His family would like all who knew him to join them for a celebration of his life.