Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club

A Short History of Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club 1970 to 1996

                                                                                                                

During the 1960s the Wellingborough Swimming Pool Association, chaired by Mr Richard Swindal (Chairman of the Wellingborough branch of the National Union of Ratepayers Associations) was formed to encourage the Town Council to build an indoor swimming pool.  The Council challenged the association to raise £50,000 towards the venture.  Many dedicated local people collected weekly for a tote, covering the whole town, Finedon, Irthlingborough and many of the villages, and the £50,000 was raised relatively quickly.

 

An advert placed in the local paper invited interested people to a meeting at the Hind Hotel with a view to forming a swimming club. Many of the Wilby Amateur Swimming Club members, together with Cyril Pine, Ron Berril, Liz Titmus to name but a few, helped to form the new W.A.S.C.  Secretary was Mrs Win Lett and Treasurer Mr Ron Lett.

 

The pool opened for public viewing on Easter Sunday 1970. Members of the newly formed club were able to sit up in the balcony, to look down on this lovely, sparkling new pool all decked out with its lane ropes, starting blocks and turning flags.  A job well done.

 

On the first Monday teaching and training night 700 members attended.   The session was arranged into half hour classes using the teaching pool and the main pool divided into sections across the width.  The final half hour 9.00 - 9.30 p.m. was used by adult swimming members.  Cash desk organiser that night was Mary Adnitt.

 

Mr Cyril Pine who had Olympic coaching experience at Loughborough was the Chief Coach.  He was assisted by, among others, Liz Titmus, Ron Berrill, John Farrow, John Gotch, Joan Emms, Audrey Hardwick and June Clark.

 

The first Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club Chairman was Dick Swindal.  After 18 months he was elected President and Mr Gordon Haddon became Chairman, a position he held for many years. 

 

Soon, the better swimmers had an extra training session on Thursday evenings.  For a time Wednesday evenings were available for one hour and a diving section was formed, coached by Mr Bernard Kelly. 

 

Our first match was against Rushden Swimming Club.  The team was selected from a group of swimmers on the poolside by Cyril Pine as the gala progressed.  We lost!

 

The first "Annual Gala" in 1970 was mostly made up of 25 and 50 metre events with heats and finals on the same night.  The Modernian Swimming Club entertained during the interval with an exhibition of diving.

                                                                                                       

At the first early morning training session the Town Council permitted six swimmers to train between 8.30 a.m. and 9.00 a.m.  Those chosen had achieved the A.S.A. 100 metre Gold Proficiency Award times.  Later they were joined by those who achieved Midland and National Age Group times.  Eventually, we were allowed to train a complete squad Monday to Friday mornings, the schools having been approached by Cyril Pine for the swimmers to miss school assembly.  Cost ten pence per swim.

 

Our best swimmers were now training five mornings, Monday club nights and Thursday evening at Wellingborough.  On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday they attended County training sessions with Neville Cross of Modernians.  His protegees Brian Brinkley and Barry Prime often trained with them on Sundays.  We performed well over this period, winning the county league seven times.  Many swimmers qualified for Midlands and Nationals. 

 

Our 25th Anniversary celebrated in 1995 was a memorable occasion.  Many of our past swimmers and present members competed with tremendous spirit at a gala followed by a Buffet and Dance.

 

A whole new world has opened with the advent of Masters swimming.  Anyone over 25 years of age can compete locally, nationally, in Europe and the World master events.  Our club now has a successful group of Masters who swim in the morning and Sunday lunchtime sessions.

 

Since Wellingborough twinned with Niort, the club has competed against their Swimming Club at home and away in alternate years.  This has given some of our swimmers experience of international swimming and many friendships have been formed.

 

Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club looks forward to a bright future.  Coaching methods have improved immensely since we started but it is still just as hard to pace 100 metres today as it was in 1970.

 

Geoff Bunker

W.A.S.C. President

November 1996

 

Geoff Bunker (5 July 1926 to 5 September 2005) was a founder member of Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club.  From the start of the club in 1970 until ill health forced him to retire in October 2003 he taught teachers and swimmers, and coached many children and adults. He introduced the Breaststroke Style competition and provided the trophies for the event that he loved.  He officiated at galas as time keeper, judge, starter and referee and served the WASC committee as a member and then Chairman prior to becoming President.

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