Club History

Club History

Compiled about 2002/3, this selected record highlights Eddie Lyne’s personal view of the steady progress of the Club to its status today.

1930’s – Bracknell Bathing Club was formed sometime in the 1930’s. There is little information available about those early years, but this Club was centred on an open-air pool located at Broad Lane Bracknell that was there until well after the Bracknell indoor pool was opened in the 1970’s.

When the government created the concept of ‘new towns’, Bracknell Development Corporation was formed to provide a force for producing a thriving new technology-based economy in the Bracknell District. With the prospect of a major expansion of the town in the 1960’s the Manager of the Broad Lane pool had the foresight and brilliant idea to form a competitive swimming club.

1961 – BRACKNELL SWIMMING CLUB (BSC) formed in April 1961. This is to be taken as the true origin of the Club.

BSC’s first competitive gala was held in September 1961 at Reading Swimming Club.

1962 – A BSC Water Polo section was formed in April 1962. The first BSC member to qualify as an ASA Official was Len Bradley in July 1962. The first Berkshire & South Buckinghamshire County event to be held at Bracknell was in November 1962.

1968 – BSC joined their first League in 1968: the local ‘Winter League’ and the first League gala to be held at Bracknell was organised in October. In the 1990’s BSC withdrew from this League that competed on the member club training nights and entered the Hants and South Coast League as being more suitable for the developing swimmers.

1973 – The Bracknell Sport and Leisure Centre Pool opened to the public in July 1973. The Official opening of the pool was by Dr. Roger Bannister in December. This pool complex with three above ground level pools was well ahead of its time since it remains an excellent facility to this day following two major refurbishments to improve the peripheral facilities. The basic pool complex is unchanged including two 6 lane 25 metre pools. BSC immediately welcomed this new pool as their new “home”. Because of their history of contribution to the welfare of the community, the Bracknell Council granted BSC exclusive use of this new pool complex for training on Tuesday and Friday evenings, a privilege that continues to this day.

In December 1973 BSC recorded their first gala win.

1975 – The highly successful BSC water polo team entered the National Water Polo League in April 1975. BSC employed their first professional (part time) Chief Coach in September 1975 – Paul Staight who eventually left to coach the Saudi Arabian National Squad and then moved to the Antipodes to coach national clubs.

1976 – In March 1976 BSC were proud to announce that they were Winter League Division 2 Champions and were promoted to Division 1 for the next year.

1977 – BSC recorded their first National Age Group medal winner at the ASA National AG Competition in August 1977 with Peter Morris winning a bronze in 200m Butterfly. In December 1977 BSC became the Swimming League South Division 2 Champions and thereby earned promotion to Division 1.

1978 – In March BSC ran out Winter League Division 1 Champions for the first time a success that they were to repeat many times over the following years. BSC became ‘the team to beat’. In June the first BSC International Swimmer emerged when Peter Morris was selected to swim his specialist stroke, butterfly and then to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games. (Sept E J Lyne elected Chairman)

In December 1978 BSC earned a place in the Swimming League South final for the first time. BSC took with them to Crawley a host of supporters who shocked the other dour finalist’s supporters but the newcomers were welcomed for their enthusiasm. BSC had started a tradition whereby they are recognised for their vociferous and innovative support and particularly ‘team mate’ to ‘team mate’. BSC were proud to finish 6th.

1980 – Summer Olympics July/August. Peter Morris, came 4th in the 200m Butterfly at the Moscow Olympic Games. Peter’s outstanding performance was a little overshadowed because Britain had a medal winner – Peter’s local rival Phil Hubble of Slough, who won Silver in the same race. After the Olympics, Peter was award a scholarship to swim and study at the University of Arizona, but continuted to train and represent BSC when he came back from the states.

In September 1980 BSC Management Committee made the important and significant decision for the Club to employ a full-time professional coach.

1981 – Under the guidance of their first full-time coach, Ian Hicks, BSC launched the first Bracknell Open Meet in July 1981, timed to give swimmers from all over the Country a last-minute opportunity to obtain their national Qualifying Time since the Meet was one day before the National Age Group closing entry-date, and we offered a “volunteer club parent driver delivery National entry service overnight”.

1982 – The last exchange with Bracknell’s German twin town of Opladen in Leverkusen took place. The exchange involved alternate visits, staying in members’ houses, training together and culminating in a competitive gala. The exchange was abandoned because BSC had become too strong for this opposition. In the future, regular overseas visits would continue but would be to training camps and specified international meets.

In October Peter Morris competed for Wales at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

1984 – Rosa Gallop was recruited as the new Chief Coach in April 1984. Rosa made an immediate impact, and under her guidance BSC made the Final of the Swimming League South for the second time in their short history. This was the start of sustained success in the League.

1985 – One of Rosa Gallop’s key objectives is a strong team spirit and with this ethos BSC powered to their first National Age Group Relay gold medal in 1985. (Amanda Lyne breast stroke leg) Also showing their strength in depth, BSC entered a ‘B’ Team in the Swimming League South.

With their evident success BSC attracted more international swimmers to enjoy their excellent facilities. Sharron Davies joined BSC to make her comeback to international swimming (*see footnote 1).

1986 – BSC celebrated its 25th year of competition.

1987 – The BSC Water Polo section ceased.

19?? –  BSC Chief Coach, Rosa Gallop, voted UK female ‘Swimming Coach of the Year’.

1990 – Bracknell had two swimmers representing England in the Commonwealth Games in Auckland New Zealand, Sharron Davies [5 events including silver medal in 4×200 relay and bronze in 4×100 relay] and Jeannette Gunston [50 free].

1992 – Inspired by Sharron Davies’ comeback success, Sarah Hardcastle made her comeback joining BSC.

1993 – Sarah Hardcastle won World Short Course 800 metres gold medal.

1996 – Sarah Hardcastle swam in the Final of the 800 metres Atlanta Summer Olympics and announced her final retirement.

2000 – In December 2000 BSC was a finalist in the Speedo Swimming League South for the 15th time in 17 consecutive years. Three times they have finished 3rd behind such giants as Portsmouth Northsea and Beckenham.

2001 – BSC took the initiative to forge closer links with its neighbouring Unitary Authority and changed its name to Bracknell and Wokingham Swimming Club (BWSC) together with the launch of a new, still current, logo designed at Reading University.

2001 – While continuing to use the Bracknell Sport and Leisure Centre as its ‘home pool’, BWSC have taken advantage of their strong connections with the Royal Army and now schedule regular training sessions in the new 50 metre pool at Aldershot Garrison.

2002 – Recognising the importance of 50 metre training and competition BWSC moved their 2002 Open Meet in June to the Aldershot facility.

Footnote 1

From the Bracknell News:

With glamorous picture <during training with Bracknell Swimming Club>, Sharon Davies returns after an eight year absence from competitive swimming. Olympic medallist and all round golden girl of British swimming announced she is back in the water. Her target – to compete in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. It was clear that she was fit and as determined as ever. Sharon thanked the Club saying “Everyone has made me feel so welcome and the kids have all been great”. 

Sharon competed in 100m Freestyle, 200m Backstroke, 200m Individual Medley,  4 x 100m Freestyle Relay, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay. and won Silver and Bronze medals in the 4×200 and 4×100 freestyle relays.

Jeannette Gunston also of Bracknell Swimming Club joined Sharon at the Games, competing in the 50m Freestyle.

History compiled by Eddie Lyne. Click here to read Eddie’s personal recollections of BWSC history.