FARNHAM SWIMMING CLUB

LEARN TO SWIM... LOVE TO SWIM... RACE TO WIN

Farnham Swimming Club was first established in 1893, 5 years before the first swimming pool was built. Club swimmers and the public used the river Wey, in a special area, fenced off from the rest of the river, not far from where the current sports centre is built.

In 1895 records show a competition took place between Farnham and Guildford. Events were recorded for both Men and Ladies, this must have been quite unusual because no National Ladies swimming events took place for another 6 years (1901). 1897 saw the employment of a caretaker to keep the gravel bed of the river clean and maintain the swimming area of the river.

The first swimming baths were built in 1898 to comemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The pool was 25 yds long, open air without any form of heating but included changing facilities for both Men and Ladies.The swimming club continued to run competitive galas at the new baths until the first world war when the club was suspended.

The Club reformed after the war and continued to be popular with people from Alton, Hindhead, Odiham and Aldershot, which didn't get it's own swimming baths until 1930.

By 1931 the swimming club membership had grown from the original 30 founder members to over 100. In 1932 a new pool was built on the site of the original baths at Brightwells. It included a filtration system that changed the water every 4.5 hours, 100 changing rooms and a diving tower. (Still no heating) One point to note for those interested in health and safety, the diving tower provided a high board at 16 feet, yet the deepest point of the pool was only 7 feet 6 inches. This probably explains why the diving tower and it's 3 boards were removed in the 1970's.

The swimming club was again suspended for the second world war in 1944, but the town galas continued and one event was attended by Vera Lynn, who was staying with friend in Weybourne while on Holiday.The club reformed after the war and employed it's first out of town coach in 1950 a Mr J.R.Judd. It wasn't long before the club had to find a means of swimming all year round, don't forget the pool was still not heated and some mornings was as cold as 47 Degrees, it was normally below 60 Degrees. This compares to the current Sports Centre where the temperature is between 75 - 80. Transport was organised and the club members started to swim at the Aldershot Command Baths in Queens Avenue. This was the only covered and heated pool in the area.

The swimming club continued to send teams to competitions in Woking, Aldershot and Guildford. The club continued to use the Command Baths but as the club grew more heated venues need to be found and the 'Tank' in Aldershot was used, an unusual structure based on a wartime water tank with a raised platform at one end, and very cold changing rooms, but at least the water was heated.

1966 saw the arrival of John and Joan Wise, 2 people who had a major influence on the club and with their guidance the club continued to grow. Once the 'Tank' was demolished and a new pool was built in Aldershot no time could be found for the Farnham swimmers, instead they had to travel to Guildford, Godalming, RAF Odiham, Lord Wandsworth School and All Hallows School. In 1977 Beryl Vincent joined Farnham as Chief Coach from Rushmoor Royals, refusing to be paid she quickly intoduced a high degree of professionalism to the team. Her efforts together with those of Anne Cheeseman, Aunty Margaret & Julian Fry, Carol Fenwick and many more who I haven't got space to list, in the 1970's and 1980's brought the club to a new level.

In 1977 the club was invited to swim at Haslemere for the first time for the Bleach Rose Bowl, Farnham won, and then joined the Rother League which Farnham also won at the first attempt. Membership of other leagues ensued, and with them more success including the Junior Sprint, the Waverley Winter and the Hants and South Coast Leagues.

1978 was a very important year for the swimmers. The Brightwells Pool received HEATING. 85 years after the original pool was built and 80 years after heating was first proposed for the pool !! Don't forget the swimming club was using this pool for 27 weeks of the year, not just in high summer. September 1981 saw the opening of the long awaited Farnham Sports Centre, complete with heating and a roof, what luxury. The club moved from strength to strength, a new chief coach was appointed, Norman Neave, a former Farnham and National swimmer. In 1985 46 of the club swimmers gained places in the Surrey Championships winning 29 medals. Overall that year the club was placed 4th in Surrey against many more powerful clubs, and in 1988 the Club won the National Speedo League. That covers the first 100 years of the club.... what's going to happen in the next 100 years...... well that might be down to YOU ! Good Luck.