History of Blacktown City Swimming Club
Formerly known as BLACKTOWN AMATEUR SWIMMING CLUB
Account by: Juanita deVries, Past Secretary/Life Member
Blacktown swimming club formed in October 1961 was built on a site with an interesting history.
The site was originally the local brickworks, which then became the local tip. At one stage, when Bullen’s Circus came to town, one of their elephants died, and the beast was buried at the site of the tip (now the pool). Construction was funded partly by the citizens of Blacktown. Interested people to raise funds established a working party. In addition the council struck a special rate of 2 cents on the ratepayer’s council rates to help fund the building of the 55yard pool. The pool was originally named “Blacktown War Memorial Pool”.
The club was approached by council to manage pool kiosk. An agreement was drawn up between club and council whereby profits/loss to be divided equally — money to council to be used for pool improvements, club’s share placed into term deposit for support of all club members.
The first club house built with volunteer parents, was a 4 x 4 metre pre-fabricated weatherboard garage, it still stands to day.
Club membership at its inception was 400-350 – races conducted in those days were on handicap and the race committee could see that if the club was going to improve they would have to introduce “scratch races”. This was not readily accepted but soon with the swimmers improving parents realised it was a good move. Parents of swimmers also took on the task as amateur coaches and were there every afternoon after work to see the swimmers go through their training.
Those who come to mind were: Bob Kandelas, Ernie Rollings, John Twitchin, Bill Ross, Dick Parker and Mrs Pat Yeo. (my apologies to any I may have overlooked.) Dick Parker who was also a qualified referee, later turned professional coach and in time became club coach and held the position until his death when the position was taken over by his wife Enid.
Before the pool was heated the swimmers were ferried around the district to wherever there was the news the water was heated — until finally the club arranged for members to swim at the then Fairfield/Cabravale 25m heated pool – cost was met by the club and the parents taxied the swimmers twice a week to train.
Learn to swim – chief l.t.swim officer was club member and volunteers came from the then Blacktown Mothers Swimming club, club members and staff of Blacktown Pool., who also donated the “Youngest Swimmer Trophy Award”.
Classes were held six mornings a week. The club supplied equipment such as kick-boards etc L.T.S. Achievement certificates were presented by member of council, local member, or swimming dignitary and the club president, race secretary were also in attendance to recruit new club members by offering one (1) months free membership they were given the opportunity “to get the feel” of swimming in 15-25m distances.
Chief L.T.Swim officers during my time were Mesdames Marj. Mc Namara, Pat Powell, Josie Haartsuyker & Mr Eric Hart.
Club Races – Club races were conducted on Saturday mornings then changed to Friday nights – club championships held-Jan/ Feb/March.
Cumberland District – winners of district point score & open and age medallists and district record holders club members were members of district relays competing state relays and the club state relays 10×50 Fred Lane and Fanny Durack relays. The highlight was when the relays were conducted at North Sydney pool they had the opportunity of going to Luna Park after the relay had been swum which was a big thing for the kids out west.
NSW State Titles – the members equipped themselves well here and it would be remiss of me to start naming names but they set many Age, State and Australian records they were starting to be a force to be reckoned with.
Australian Titles – the club’s first representatives went to South Australia in 1970 they were Kerry Hyland, Olive Pickering and Susan Parker – and now after all the parents hard work Blacktown was on its way. Blacktown went from strength to strength.
Australian Representative – Michele de Vries:
- learned to swim Blacktown pool – 6yrs of
- attended schools – Marayong primary & Doonside high school
- competed in all strokes excelling in backstroke
- represented schools – metropolitan west 1970-1979
- represented Blacktown City – Australian & national teams,
- California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and gained
- Selection 1976 Olympic swim team Montreal – aged 14years
- events competed in:
- 4x100m women’s individual medley relay – finalists 7th place.
- 100m women’s backstroke -(semi finalist)
- 200m women’s backstroke
- Was Blacktown & Cumberland’s first woman selected in Swimming.
- During swimming career was the holder of National Open/Age, State
- Open/Age, Cumberland District & State School Records
In recognition of her contribution and achievements to swimming Blacktown Swimming Club named their new clubhouse in her honour.
Technical Officials –the race secretaries during this time were Alan Ainsley, Mrs Eadie Dunn, Mrs Brenda Smith, Mr. Rod Pettit, Mrs. Beryl Abbott, Mrs Tess Tuckwell, and Mrs. Lorraine Colquhoun.
Technical officials – referees Messrs Berry Rickards, Dick Parker, Ross Grant, Reg Warren, Gerry Mc Donald, George Ford, Gordon Fenbow, Mrs Val Fenbow – The Delegates to Cumberland for many years were Win & Ross Grant their services were given Friday night club races & Saturday District races he was a referee and she worked the position of Registrar– their own children were not involved in the sport and Blacktown Club was indeed fortunate to have them. Other parents held positions of Timekeeping and Starters. Hence not only the swimmers showed improvement also the parents were becoming more efficient in the conducting of Carnivals and better understanding of the rules of swimming.
Social Committee/Fundraising – the parents on the committee worked tirelessly to raise money to assist all swimmers, regardless of their level of swimming. All race entries were paid so no swimmer would be denied the opportunity to compete, club assisted travel & accommodation. The highlight of the season would be the club’s trip away to Canberra for a weekend of swimming and give them an opportunity to compete outside their district because some would only make club/district
To reach this goal the parents ran chocolate wheels, lamington drives, bottle drives, delivered telephone books. Raffles every Friday night, chook raffles in main street, lucky envelopes outside Westpac bank – (good old Midge Treu) she never missed a Friday. Local shops gave vouchers or goods to raffle.
Aside from the fund-raising there were nights of enjoyment for the parents, BBQ’s, cabaret nights, for the children fancy dress balls, dances, and who could forget the debutante balls girls in their beautiful gowns and the boys in their dinner suits. No wet costumes and towels.
Presentation nights – Were originally held in the civic centre this being due to the large membership also very few venues where a large function could be held.
This evening would not have been possible without the work of the race secretary and committee, a band of hard workers.
Of the awards given, most memorable would be the Lesley Watson memorial trophy in honour of club member who died while swimming in club races and also the youngest swimmer award which must surely be the first stepping stone for new club members.
Blacktown Club House – After many years of representation to council for new club house the club was given a government grant and 1980’s saw this finally come to fruition a fitting legacy for the future members of Blacktown City Swimming Inc.
Blacktown Club has come a long way since the days of the “Old Brick Pit”.
Past Secretary/Life Member