Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club



From 1996, when Geoff  Bunker wrote our history, until 2004, the Club continued much as he described; but inevitably, there were changes.  Spectators in the balcony still looked down on a sparkling pool, but the tiles were beginning to come away and, beneath the pool, the plant was wearing out from decades of constant use.  Increasing interest in swimming and the growing number of children wanting to join encouraged the Club to find additional water time elsewhere.  By 1998 squads were swimming at the home pool and at Rushden, Wollaston and Oundle.  All the squads were full, and entry into the Club became (and remains) competitive.  In 2005 land training was added to the programme.


The last competition with Niort before their swimming club merged with another was swum in 1998.  Apart from that, the Club continues to compete at all levels from “Diddy” to Masters.  For some years a few swimmers were able to join the County swim camp at Crystal Palace.  When the County camp discontinued in 2004, we took on the organisation of the camp giving more of our swimmers the opportunity to train intensively with swimmers from Kettering and Corby.  In 2009 Wellingborough swimmers will go to a training camp in Italy.


By 2004 the Club website was well established and widely used, and everyone had become accustomed to paying their fees by Standing Order, but the Croyland Road pool was showing its age.  In January of that the year the Borough Council announced that further maintenance was uneconomic and they would demolish the pool and build a new one on the site.  This would leave the town without a pool for at least fifteen months, a potentially fatal blow for WASC.  The Club, along with other groups, had talks with the Borough Council and campaigned for a better solution.  The outcome was a decision to build the Waendel Centre and to maintain the old pool until the new one was ready.  Although the new pool did not open to the public until a fortnight after the old one closed, WASC was given access and did not lose a single session.


In June 2007 spectators once more looked down on a sparkling new pool, this time with electronic timing.  The meeting room was named in honour of Geoff  Bunker.


At this time the Club was working on another big project which they completed by the end of 2007.  In 2008 the Club gained the ASA Swim 21 Award, only the second in the county to do so.  Swim 21 Accreditation is a 'Quality mark'. It recognises nationally and regionally the clubs that are committed to providing safe, effective and quality services for the benefit of their members.  Many well established features of the Club contributed to gaining the award, including the Website, the Newsletter, published since September 1995, and now issued mostly by email, and the Handbook, first issued in 1996. 


Families joining WASC from other clubs often comment on the caring and friendly atmosphere.  This is undoubtedly because of the large number of volunteers who contribute to the smooth running of the Club.  New helpers bring energy and innovation; the long-standing contribute experience and ensure continuity.  New-comers are made welcome and it may be proof of the satisfaction they derive to notice that many stay on long after their children have left the Club.  Among those still helping today: June Clark, a poolside helper when the Club started still issues ASA competitive swimming awards each month; Sheila Welch, Fixture Secretary for 35 years and still a committee member; Shirley Berrill, another founder member, still timekeeping; Sandra Starkey, coaching since 1987 now leading the coaching team, Jean Thomas, our Secretary since 1992; Jim Peto, Masters Coach, teacher and committee member; Mike Roach, swimming official and Club Chairman since 1992.


Ultimately, Wellingborough Amateur Swimming Club is about the swimmers.  Over the years many have swum at County, a lot going on to Regional competition and the special few to Nationals.  To achieve still higher levels we have encouraged those who would benefit to leave us and go on to larger clubs who can take them further up the ladder.  Among our best were Jackie Thompson and Nicky Whitney (nee Titmus) who both broke more than 50 County Records; Brian Triptree and Paul Mitchell; and more recently Michelle Smith and Mark Strachan. But every swimmer is valued highly and as we approach our 40th Anniversary we look forward to continuing to help our swimmers to achieve their full potential and enjoy swimming. 

December 2008