Real Lives: Paralympian Jim Anderson adds OBE to his medal haul

A Paralympic swimmer from Broxburn has enjoyed a visit to Buckingham Palace after being made an Officer of the British Empire for his services to sport.

Jim Anderson, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is known as "Jim the Swim", collected the award earlier this month from Princess Anne.

Born James Allan Anderson on 14 April 1963 at Craigtoun Hospital in St Andrews, the gold medal-winning swimmer spent his early years on a farm outside the town with his parents John and Brenda and his older brother Stuart.

Jim's condition was not diagnosed until he was four years old. His mother said: "It was a late diagnosis because people in those days did not know as much as now. It wasn't that shocking, not devastating. Really it was just good to know what was wrong and how to deal with it."

After the diagnosis Jim went to the Capital's Westerlea School for children with disabilities and the following year the family moved to Broxburn so that he would not have to board.

During his school days he was more interested in writing than swimming. He won two short story competitions and was presented with an award by Harold Wilson's wife Mary.

Although Jim was interested in sport at school, it was a very different one that caught his attention at this stage – he was the school wheelchair disco dancing champion.

It was only after he left the school in 1979, aged 16, and went to Edinburgh's New Trinity Centre that he began to hone his swimming talent.

Brenda, said: "It's funny, he was still wearing a rubber ring when he swam at the age of 18. It was a confidence thing. He would wear it even when the air was out of it."

In 1992 he competed in his first Paralympics, in Barcelona, and has competed at every Games since, winning a haul that includes six gold and nine silver medals.

Jim describes the highlight of his career as winning four gold medals at the Athens Games and the celebratory trip to Wimbledon where he saw fellow Scot Andy Murray play.

In 2004, Jim was named the BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year. He was awarded the MBE the same year.

Now aged 46, his excellent form continues. His gold medals this year at the European championships in Iceland have set him on course for a final Olympic Games in London in 2012.

But at home with his family he is not treated like a superstar.

Brenda said: "He's just plain Jim at home with us. He's not allowed to have a big head here. He even has to do chores and he does the dusting with me on Fridays."

When Jim finally decides to hang up his swimming trunks he plans to write his autobiography.