The Early History of the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club


 Don Roberts


World War II had only been over for two months, Collaroy Plateau was mostly bush and Pittwater Road was only two lanes with disused tram tracks on one side when the First Annual General Meeting of the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club was held. It took place on Wednesday the 3rd October 1945 at the residence of Mr.J.R.Sellars 32 Hay Street Collaroy with the President Mr.K.Cooper in the chair.

As there are no records of previous committee meetings it can be assumed that the the Club was formed within the preceding 12 months.

The following Officers were elected for the year 1945-46:

President K.R.Cooper

Secretary L.A.Bull

Treasurer J.J.Stuart

Auditor A.E.B.Putnam

Referee B.Pollett

Delegates to N.S.W.A.S.A K.R.Cooper,L.A.Bull,J.R.Sellars

Handicapper J.J.Stuart

Starter J.F.Roberts

Race Secretary J.R.Sellars

Publicity Officer K.R.Cooper

Social Secretary J.R.Sellars

The appointment of Judges and Timekeepers were left to the incoming committee.

It is interesting to compare the number of elected office bearers with the number that we elect today.

There were two clubs that had assisted the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club in those early days and they were the Collaroy Womens Amateur Swimming Club and the Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club and these were duly thanked at the First Annual Meeting.

There was also a cordial relationship between neighbouring clubs, which is borne out by North Sydney A.S.C. and Dee Why A.S.C. sending their Annual Report and the latter club inviting the Collaroy officials to attend their Annual General Meeting.

The degree of assistance and cooperation given by the Womens Club is evidenced by the use of their Club room for the committee meetings as well as the use of their lane ropes.

At the Second Annual General Meeting which was held in the club room of the Collaroy Womens A.S.C. on Wednesday 28th August 1946, the following Officers were elected for the year 1946-47.

Patron H.J.Magyor

President J.J.Stuart

Secretary L.A.Bull

Treasurer K.R.Cooper

Auditor A.E.B.Putnam


Delegates to N.S.W.A.S.A L.A.Bull, W.Abbott, R.N.Twight

Handicapper L.A.Bull

Starter J.J.Stuart

Race Secretary J.R.Sellars

Publicity Officer K.R.Cooper

Social Secretary P.Luce

Judge K.R.Cooper

Timekeeper P.Luce

Club Captain W.Abbott: Junior Captain

Vice Captain R.N.Twight

Check Starter

Coaches W.Abbott, T.Dawson

Vice President K.R.Cooper

The races were held on Saturday afternoons and because the Womens club also swam on the same afternoon it was decided at the 2nd Annual Meeting that the events should be alternated with the Womens club.

It was also decided that a Water Polo Team be formed and that a ball be made available at each meeting of the club.

One of the first Championship trophies to be donated came from W.Roberts and was for the 880 yards freestyle.

The distances for all swimming events during the early post war years were in yards and appropriately all rock pools in the area were constructed as 55 yards pools.It wasn’t until some years later that the Collaroy pool was shortened to 50 metres along with most of the other pools in the district.There is today Narrabeen and Freshwater pool which are still measured in yards.

The swimming programme for the season was drawn up each month and the races to be conducted for the month of November 1946 were:

15 yards Freestyle

15 yards Breaststroke

15 yards Backstroke

25 yards Freestyle

25 yards Breaststroke

25 Yards Backstroke

33 yards Freestyle

55 yards Freestyle

110 yards Freestyle (Only if there are 3 or more starters)

Night swimming was conducted on a Sunday and comprised of 110 yards Freestyle,55 yards Freestyle relay,220 yards Freestyle and 110 yards Breaststroke.

While it is not known what condition the Collaroy Pool was in at this time, it never the less prompted the club to write to the council to make improvement to the “baths”, as well as an application for accommodation for the club and a controlled oulet for the P.A.system.

The committee meeting held on the 26 November 1946 made significant decisions to involve the club in State and National swimming. Firstly it was decided to advise the Learn to Swim Committee which comprised Northern Suburbs A.S.A., N.S.W. Water Polo Association, North Sydney A.S.C., Collaroy Womens A.S.C. and N.S.W.A.S.A. that the Collaroy A.S.C. would be conducting Learn to Swim at the Collaroy Baths at 9.30 am on Saturday mornings, the instructor being J.Hurst.

In the area of competition a decision was made to enter into Inter Club Competition, which was the forerunner of the Warringah Carnivals that we know today, and finally the Secretary was authorised to purchase 2 dozen assorted sizes of standard costumes and that the committee to provisionally select swimmers for the National Championships.

At this time nearly all swimming clubs in the metropolitan area swam in either rock or harbour pools the exception being the North Sydney club which swam in the North Sydney Olympic Pool.This meant that when State Championships and National Championships were held the majority of the swimmers competing came from the rock pool and harbour pool clubs.


As there was no Warringah Amateur Swimming Association at this time all clubs in the Manly Warringah area belonged to the Northern Suburbs Swimming Association.The venue for the District Carnivals would be allocated to the various clubs to run and it is noted that on the 9th March 1947 Collaroy was to conduct one of these carnivals in conjunction with it’s own 55 yards Junior Championship and the 110 yards Intermediate Championship Finals.

When members were elected to a position such as timekeeper or starter it was accepted as a position of responsibility and if a member wished to change from one position to another then he had to tender a resignation and be elected to the new position.

At the beginning of 1947 the club had 85 members and as the Presentation of Trophies approached in September and due to the financial condition of the club it was decided to sell 3 stop watches at �2-10-0 ($6.00) each. The presentation was held at the Arlington Hall in the form of a dance with the charges to be 2/- (20c) for adults and 6d (5c) for children.

On Wednesday, the 1st October 1947 the Third Annual General Meeting was held at the Surf Club. The President, Mr.J.J.Stuart was unavoidably absent, and because no one else was willing to take the chair, the President of the Dee Why A.S.C., Mr.J.Morrison presided over the meeting. The Secretary of the N.S.W.A.S.A. was present along with Mr.Graham from the Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club and Mrs. Smith from the Collaroy Womens A.S.C. An Annual Report or Balance Sheet had not been prepared and a verbal report was accepted. The following Offices were elected for the year 1947-48:

Patron Brigadier Playfair

Vice Patron Mr.Bristan

President Mr.W.Thomas

Hon.Secretary J.C.Hurst

Hon.Treasurer Mr.W.Thomas

Hon.Auditor A.E.Putman

Referee J.F.Roberts

Handicapper J.F.Roberts

Starters W.Abbott and Mr.Martin

Race Secretaries J.Murray and W.Urquhart

Publicity Officer J.Allen

Social Secretary Mrs.J.R.Sellars

Judges Butcher, A.Smith, Wright, Swift, G.Redwood

Timekeepers R.Twight, Larsen

Club Captain R.Twight

Junior Captain J.Murray

Vice Captain J.C.Hurst

Check Starter Not Filled

Coaches T.Dawson, J.Hurst

Vice President Not Filled

Delegates Not Filled

One of the lasting motions that were moved, was that future committee meetings be held on the second Tuesday of the month.

In order to promote membership, letters were sent to Collaroy, South and North Narrabeen Surf Clubs asking if any of their members were interested in joining the club. The Club Championships for 1947-48 commenced on Sunday 14th February with heats being swum during January and February. There were 3 divisions, senior, intermediate and junior.

The season had some difficulties with changes to the Office Bearers with some even resigning, letters were sent to those that had resigned requiring club property held by them to be returned. The finance situation was not good and it had been decided to purchase a radio as a prize in a raffle, the results being that it was not financially successful.

After nearly 3 years since the formation of the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club the end was near with the last recorded meeting held on the 6th April 1948.

On the 15th August 1952 in the club room of the Collaroy Womens Amateur Swimming Club, Mr.John Morrison of Dee Why Amateur Swimming Club and who was a prominent figure in the local swimming world, presided over a meeting to form a swimming club to be known as the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club.

There were 18 persons present including Messrs. Mitchell, Starrett, McCourt, Cumming and Mrs.Sellars, a motion to put this into effect was proposed by Mrs.Sellars and seconded by Mr.Mitchell. This was duly carried and a further motion was proposed by Mr.McCourt and seconded by Mr.Starrett that the club affiliate with the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association, this was also passed and so the rebirth of the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club took place. A committee comprising Messrs.Starrett, McCourt and Mitchell was formed to organise and publicise a meeting for Thursday 11th September.

This meeting was held with 14 persons present and the organisation of the club was proceeded with. Mr.Starrett was elected as Treasurer, Mr.McCourt was elected to the combined position of Race Secretary and Handicapper, Mr.Quirk was elected as Publicity Officer, the position of President was held over in the mean time but eventually Mr.H.Baldwin was elected to this position. The committee members elected were, Messrs. Laurence McCourt, Mitchell, Talbot, Ron Starrett, Roberts, Baldwin, Jorgensen and Hook.

The Club was to hold it�s races on Sunday afternoon starting at 2.30 pm, and that entries were to be in by 2.00 pm., this of course was all subject to receiving approval from the Council. The Club swimming season would start on Sunday 12th October and the fees would be 8/- (80c) for senior and 5/-(50c) for junior members, to be paid before the first swim.

A further meeting was held a week later on the 18th September when it was decided that in order to publicise the club 12″ x 10″ placards would be printed and placed in shops. An account would be opened with the Commonwealth Bank and a delegate from the surf club be present at all committee meetings. The colours of the Club would be red on black, the local member of parliament Mr.R.Askin was invited to accept the office of Patron and Mr.Green was invited to accept the office of Vice Patron. Mr.Starrett and Mr.McCourt were to be delegates to the Dee Why Amateur Swimming Club�s Annual Meeting.

The need to have their own Club Room Accommodation was initiated when a letter was written to the Warringah Shire Council asking them if any treatment was required to the land and banks adjacent to the pool, which was in a dangerous condition, that Council make provision for club room accommodation. However it was to be a few more years before a Club House would be built and not adjacent to the pool.

The Learn to Swim campaign was one of the priorities of the newly formed club and it was reinstated with Messrs Quirk and McCourt being appointed to take charge of this activity, they were also to seek full cooperation of the Ladies Club.

It would appear that the perennial problem of getting sufficient workers at the races was evident then, for in order to get assistance a letter was sent out to the boys parents asking for their help. As the club had insufficient watches, these were to be bought if they could be obtained at a reasonable price.

The social side of the club was not forgoten and enquiries were made to various places regarding the hiring of a hall for social evenings.

In addition to the Manly Daily there was another local paper named the Pittwater Pioneer, and in order to assist the flegling club to attract new members, the paper offered their facilities to publicise the club�s activities.

At a meeting held on the 15th November 1952 it was resolved to send a copy of the club rules and constitution to the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association with a request for affiliation. At the same time Mr.Rob Askin was elected Patron, a position and an association with the club which he had for many years even after he became Premier of NSW and was knighted.

The membership at this stage had reached 91, 73 Junior members and 18 Senior members. When new members applied for membership it had to be approved by the committee and 27 Junior and 2 Senior new members were accepted. The club finances stood at �39-16-8 ($79.66).

As the 1952-53 season was coming to a close it was decided that the 1st Presentation Night which would also include a dance would be held in the Arlington Hall and that an admission charge of 3/- (30c) be made. Prizes would be given to those swimmers who had swum in 25% of the races during the season, and that these swimmers would be contacted for suggestions on what the prizes would be. On the basis of this Ron Starret would choose and purchase all of the prizes for the season and determine the value of each. In addition prizes would be given to the 2 persons selling the most raffle tickets.

The Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club had been accepted by the NSWASA and 3 delegates were appointed to represent the club at the NSWASA meetings and these were Messrs Quirk. Mitchell and Ron Starret.

The Warringah Amateur Swimming Association were conducting district Championships and these were held at various pools in the area so that our swimmers could attend these Messrs Swift and Bray arranged the transport for the boys to attend at Dee Why Rock Pool and the Manly Harbour Pool.

It would appear that the Collaroy Rock Pool wasn�t in the best of condition and the club wrote to the Council protesting about this and if there was no response then a petition would be got up. The need for a club room was again raised and it was decided to commence an appeal as well as start agitation in the hope of obtaining this.

The NSW Swimming Association was running interclub competitions and 12 � 14 swimmers from the Collaroy Club would be selected to enter the competition. In order to lift the standard of the club officials it was suggested that Timekeepers and Judges be examined, this would also enable them to be officially recognised at carnivals. This proved to be beneficial for when the District Association chose to hold their championship at the Collaroy Pool it was stipulated that all officials were to be qualified.

The Collaroy Womens Club was still assisting the new Collaroy Club by providing it’s club house for the committee meetings which were held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. The club races would now start at noon on Sundays with entries closing at 11:45 am. At this time 85% of the club membership were under 12. Boys who competed in the races on a Sunday could use the dressing sheds of the surf club.

In order to be eligible for championship a member had to have a 25% attendance of weekly swims at the date of the championship. The main contribution for the purchase of trophies for the presentaion was by the selling of raffle tickets. The prize would be a Sunbeam Mixmaster or some other appliance. As a reward for selling 40 raffle tickets the boys would be taken to the Zoo all expenses paid. It was agreed that presentation trophies would be kept under �52 ($104).

In addition to the presentation of the trophies Mr.Smiles from the Narrabeen Evening College would be present with the college’s projector to show films, a donation of 2/- (20c) would be requested from all adults attending.

Another way of raising funds was to approach all country visitors to Collaroy during January and February for donations, as well as hold a fair in conjunction with the Collaroy Womens Club from 24 December 1954 to 2 January 1955, with the net proceeds to be divided equally between the 2 clubs. A total of �450 ($900) net profit was made from the fair and because of this it was proposed to hold another fair next Christmas. From the share that Collaroy got it was decided to set aside �229-9-6 ($458.95) for a new club room.

It was agreed in principle between the Collaroy Womens and Collaroy that we would establish a combined building fund for the purpose of extending the present club premises, and subsequently a building fund account was opened.

An unfortunate incident occurred at the races on the Sunday 20 November 1955 when a long standing member of the committee was involved in a general disturbance and the use of bad language to the boys in front of the general public and was subsequently asked to resign.

The building of a club house moved another step forward when in 1956 the Warringah Shire Council approved the application for the erection of the club house and allocated �250 ($500) for the services of an architect to prepare suitable plans in conjuction with the 2 clubs.

To facilitate the running of the races Mr.&Mrs.Jorgensen donated an amplifier for use around the pool, but the problem was that there was no power to run it and an approach was made to the council to install a power point as soon as possible.

It was in 1957 when a discussion on the appointment of a coach to train the members took place, Mr.Frank O’Neill was approached and his fees were �6-6-0 ($12.60) per boy but it was decided that nothing would be done in this regard at the moment. Mr. L.Bray junior said that he would be in attendance at the baths early Sunday morning before the races to train any boy who wants it and 6 kicking boards were purchased for this.

In order to improve the running of the races the names of placegetters would be announced over the loud speakers immediately after the race is run. The timekeepers would wear some kind of identification and all 55 yards races would be started from the southern end of the pool and divided into sections because of the large number of swimmers. Rosters would be drawn up for lane rope and cross rope duty and adminstered by the junior captain.

Early in 1958 members of the committee met with members of the council to look over sites for the proposed club house, as a result of this a further meeting was to be arranged between Mr.Stephens and Messrs. Morgan and Starrett. The initial proposal was for a club house for both the Collaroy Amateur Swimming Club and Collaroy Womens Amateur Swimming Club, however it was decided at one of the committee meetings that the Club withdraw from the joint application for a building to be erected at Collaroy and apply to Council for a club house with public facilities attached and f