Manly Swimming Club - the early years

Manly Swimming Club - the early years

Manly Swimming Club held its first club carnival on 23 April 1892 in the new Corporation Baths.3 The events featured a boys’ handicap race of 66 yards (2 lengths of the baths); the Captaincy Race of 200 yards (6 lengths), won by C J Griffith; an exhibition of fancy diving and swimming by the brothers E & C Cavill; and a Members’ Handicap of 200 yards, also won by Griffith. A long-distance diving contest to see who could travel furthest underwater from a dive was won by W H German, who stayed under for 45 yards. He was also second in the Captaincy race. Mr German was Mayor of Manly at the time. Other events held at the carnival included a clothes race, were competitors had to swim fully-clothed and wearing a top hat; and walking the greasy pole “off which competitors continually slipped into the water, causing much merriment to the onlookers.” There were around 200 spectators.

The Manly Swimming Club appears to have been reconstituted in March 1893. At a meeting on 11 April 1893 at the Grand Pier Hotel, the following office-bearers were elected: President, John Woods; secretary, R A Luckham; promoter, R Stennett.

The club held a carnival on 18 November 1893, at which the Cadet Band played. Events featured a water-polo match between Manly and East Sydney, which the latter won 5-0. Ralph Stennett, the baths’ manager, performed an underwater escapology trick with manacles. Arthur Holmes won the fancy dress swim.4Secretary of the carnival was Mr R A Luckham.

At the club’s carnival on 17 March 1894, the 200 yards championship of NSW was
contested, and was won by A Cavill of North Shore Swimming Club, one of the well-known family of swimmers. An inter-club handicap race was also held.5
Office-bearers elected on 2 October 1894 were: President, H S Badgery; Secretary and treasurer, R A Luckham; delegates to the Association, R Walker and A Moore.6 The club had between 30 and 40 members.
The club disbanded in 1895, “on account of the treatment it had received at the hands of the Amateur Swimming Association.”7 Manly swimmers could no longer compete as a club in inter-club events.

 The club was briefly reformed in December 1899, but did not thrive, possibly because Mr Stennett was no longer baths manager. It was not until September 1905, when the Manly District Amateur Swimming Club was formed, that Manly again had an active swimming club.

From the Manly Library Local Studies blog archives

1 Champion, G & S, Bathing and Drowning, p19.
2 Sydney Morning Herald 21 March 1892, p5.
3 Sydney Morning Herald 25 April 1892, p7.
4 Sydney Morning Herald 20 November 1893, p6. See also Champion, Bathing and Drowning, p23-24
5 Sydney Morning Herald 19 March 1894, p3.
6 Sydney Morning Herald 3 October 1894, p8.
7 Champion op cit, p28; SMH 15 October 1895, p6.


Newspaper articles collated by Manly Library Local Studies

Manly Amateur Swimming Club volunteers, 1914-15

It was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 1915, p8, that 56 members of the Manly Amateur Swimming Club had so far enlisted for service in WWI.

They were:

Bennett, F

Buckley, Alick

Butchardt, N

Corrigan, Edgar

Cowan, R

Darley, Arthur H

Donovan, F

Dove, B

Dryden, Robert E

Farley, M

Fuller, W E

Gillespie, John

Hawksford, Len

Hedley, Reginald

Hind, Harry

Holland, John

Holmes, N

Johnson, Ben

Kidman, Cyril

Kirke, Basil

Kirke, Clement

Kirke, Errol W

Kirke, Hunter

Lord, J

McCubbin, A

McCubbin, David

McKelvey, Steve

McLean, L

McMahon, F

McPhee, Ken

Merrett, Eric

Millar, George

Miller, Robert

Mitchell, Jack

Murray, Cecil G

Murray, Dr Archibald W G

Murray, G

Ogilvy, Archie

Paddison, C

Perry, S

Quirk, R

Richards, Tom

Rosenthal, Arthur

Rossiter, W


Featured image: Manly Amateur Swimming Club Premiers NSW undated.

Image courtesty NBC Library

Manly Amateur Swimming Club 1908-09.

Image courtesty NBC Library


Manly Amateur Swimming Club 1914-15.

Image courtesty NBC Library

Manly Amateur Swimming Club 1915-16

Image courtesty NBC Library

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