There has been a swimming club in Bridgwater for well over 100 years. The first meeting held to gain interest in the forming of a swimming club and to express intent to do so took place on the 11th May 1894. Later that May, on the 23rd a second meeting was held during which officers were officially elected. The impetus to form a swimming club in the town followed the opening of Bridgwater’s first swimming pool at the Old Taunton Road location in 1893.
From its initial formation the club continued successfully and even managed to run through much of the Great War! Although in 1917 due to a dwindling membership the club was forced into inactivity. Then on the 30th May 1919 normal club activity was resumed.
During the 1930’s swimming races from Dunball to Bridgwater were held in the River Parrett! Although clearly these events could not take place today for safety reasons it is reported that the events would attract several thousand spectators. It is known that Bridgwater Amateur Swimming Club continued until 1935 but after this dates no reports of the club have been found until 1938. A Bridgwater Mercury report from this year stated “regret of the lapse of Bridgwater Men’s and Ladies club was expressed at the annual general meeting of the Somerset Amateur Swimming Association.” Although a separate club known as the Bridgwater River Swimming Club continued to thrive. The lapse of reports continues until 1947, although this lapse in part could be contributed to World War 2.
During this time swimmers would at times swim in water well below 16°c! Most public swimming pools are now heated to approximately 29°c.
In 1955 the club was forced once again into inactivity. This time not caused by war but by the closure of the swimming baths at the Old Taunton Road location. The pool had to make way for a new dual carriage way bridge over the River Parrett that would cut through the site of the baths. At the time it had been hoped an indoor heated pool would be built and ready for use before the old pool was closed, although this was not to be so.
It was then not until 1960 that the club was reformed once again and based at the newly built Broadway Lido. Due to demand the club membership had to be capped to 300! In 1975 the club got to use its first indoor swimming pool on a regular basis, although this was not in Bridgwater but at the new state of the art pool at Burnham-on-Sea. It wasn’t until 1991 and 97 years after its first formation that the club had the benefit of a heated indoor swimming pool in Bridgwater, which was of course the Sedgemoor Splash!
The Sedgemoor Splash remained the main home for Bridgwater Amateur Swimming Club until august 2009, when the pool closed its doors for the last time. This time though, the club was undeterred by the lack of facilities in the town and has continued to operate from Quantock Lodge swimming pool.
The club are now looking forward to opening of only the 2nd indoor swimming pool in Bridgwater, due to be opening at the Chilton School Site in 2013!
There may not have been a pool in Bridgwater for over three years but we are still here and if you are interested in joining to pursue varying types of aquatic sports such as learning to swim, competitive swimming, lifesaving or simply to keep fit please get in touch.
More information on Bridgwater Swimming Club can be seen on their website www.bridgwaterswim.co.uk
Article copyright © 2012 Ricky Hayes