Brief History of The Club
Solihull Swimming Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2013 and this article provides a brief history of its formation and activities.
A social swimming club existed in the Borough before World War II using an open air pool in Malvern Park. After the War, the club was restarted, but it was unfortunately wound up around 1949. However, using some assets left by this original social club, the present "Solihull Swimming Club" was formed at the first Annual General Meeting in March 1963 where over one hundred and fifty prospective club members attended. The original objectives of the Club were to teach the art of swimming, to teach lifesaving and diving and to promote the game of water polo. Later the same year, the Club became affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association.
Within a year of its formation, the new Club had over 300 members with both swimming teaching and water polo becoming well established. As the membership increased, the need for more water time was essential and, with the support of the Club, a new swimming pool was built on the edge of Tudor Grange Park. The original Tudor Grange pool was officially opened on the 19th June 1964 and the Club has swum at Tudor Grange on both Tuesdays and Fridays ever since with Sundays being added in 1998. In 1976, additional water time was secured at the Solihull School pool which was at that time an open air pool.
One of the earliest members of the Club's teaching classes was local girl Deborah (Debbie) Rudd. Debbie showed immense talent from an early age and she moved on to City of Coventry Swimming Club where she was coached by top GB coach Hamilton Bland. Her progress continued unabated culminating in Debbie representing Great Britain in the 200 metres breaststroke at both the 1976 Montreal Olympics (where she made the final) and the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
As the Club grew in strength, the swimming section entered local competitive leagues and enjoyed many successes with individuals achieving county and national recognition. The first Annual Club Championships were held in 1966 which have continued every year to date. The "Diddy" (now called Pre-Junior) swimming section was introduced for the under 12's in the late 1970's and the Club entered the Nuneaton and District Diddy League. A diving section was added in 1979 which regularly entered local competitions and in 1992 a synchronised swimming section was also formed. Although both these sections ran for a number of years, they no longer currently exist today.
During the past twenty years or so, the Club continued to enter various local swimming leagues including the National Swimming League, the Nuneaton and Leicester Junior Leagues, Worcester Winter League and the Mercian League. From about 1988, some of Solihull's best swimmers in each age group began to train with the newly formed City of Birmingham Swimming Club, a relationship that continues today. The Club joined the Coventry and District Association of Swimming Clubs in 2011 which continues to provide opportunities for swimmers to compete against other local clubs and training opportunities for volunteers. More recently the Club has continued to add open galas to the annual fixture list, in particular, the Sheffield Gala at the Ponds Forge pool, which continues to be very popular each year.
The water polo teams have also delivered many successes and trophies over the years. The Club has participated in various leagues at senior, junior, youth and academy levels. A testament to the high level of training, a significant number of our players have trained with GB squads over several years and two of our former proteges, Rosie Morris, and Jake Vincent were members of the GB water polo teams at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In 2000, St. Martin's School pool was opened which gave the Club, for the first time, three pools close to the town centre, namely Tudor Grange, Solihull School, and St. Martin's School, having previously used pools further afield in Sparkhill, Acocks Green and Chelmsley Wood. Early in 2001 the future of the original Tudor Grange pool became unclear and significant discussions were held with the Borough Council over the next few years. The Club eventually moved into its new "spiritual home", built next to the site of the original pool, in January 2008.
As the Amateur Swimming Association placed greater emphasis on the constitution of clubs, good administration and structured training, the Club has continued to develop the expertise of its volunteer workforce. The Club achieved its Swim21 accreditation in 2004, being one of the first few clubs to achieve this in the West Midland Region. Swim21 is the ASA's club kite-mark that sets standards in aspects of activities both in and out of the water. The Club also embraced the new electronic age launching its website in April 2004. Following the increasing trends amongst clubs around the country, the Club took the decision to appoint its first ever professional Head Swimming Coach in January 2008.
The Club reached its Jubilee year in excellent shape with both swimming and water polo sections performing extremely well and with a membership of over 600. Throughout its history, the Club has been fortunate to have a strong volunteer workforce of coaches, teachers, officials, helpers and administrators that ensures that all the Club's activities take place in a safe secure environment. Over the past fifty years, the Club has benefited from a number of significant characters who have contributed greatly to the growth and success of the Club. Far too many to mention by name, but it is planned that an expanded version of the Club's history will recognise their contributions.