Club History

In June of 1957 Mr. Brian Will, the PE teacher at the local High School, decided, along with other members of the community, to re-develop a swimming Club for the young people of Traralgon. It was not the first ever Traralgon swimming club. There was an earlier attempt to operate a swimming club which had, after a time, folded. So with renewed enthusiasm and support, the New Traralgon Swimming Club was born at a meeting held at 89 Seymour Street on the 14th of June in 1957.

The swimmers of the day used the old Traralgon pool – a 4 or 5 lane pool measured in yards that was fed by the waters of the Traralgon Creek. The sides of the pool were slimy and the water was green and murky but this was not unusual for that day when the Bairnsdale’s club pool was the Mitchell River and relay swimmers were ferried to the opposite banks by boat. It is said that it was not unusual to share your swimming space in these stream fed pools with the original models of a competent frog kick. Our early swimmers wore neither caps nor goggles and their style would be somewhat unorthodox by today’s standards. But they were a tough bunch who trained outdoors from October each year and represented Traralgon with pride turned out in dark green blazers.

Over the early years the club enjoyed only moderate success in the pool but was able to maintain a healthy social climate and avoid the controversy that defined some clubs. Throughout the minutes that tell the club’s story there is mention of camping trips and clinics, excursions and projects that kept the club vibrant and viable. The efforts of the many families who have been a part of this club all contributed to the Traralgon Swimming Club of today. For great clubs do not appear overnight.

Without the benefit of an indoor heated pool of our own – in spite of much energy over the years spent lobbying, organising feasibility studies and in talks with government officials – we somehow, over 50+ years managed to keep swimmers in water. There are some who would say that in view of our current success we have not been hampered by this lack of pool space, but this success is hard won as we juggle a formidable timetable that requires working around not only learn-to-swim programs, but other swimming clubs who vie with us for pool space.

We’ve travelled a long way from a time of slimy walls and cork lane ropes and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who paved the way for this club to become known Nationally for our professionalism and excellence. It surely gives additional pleasure to our celebrations to be in this position of accomplishment.

Brian Ford became the club’s Head Coach in 1998 and since then, the club has gone from strength to strength holding the enviable position of top Country Swimming Club for all but one year since 2000, and being the top ranked Country Club at State Championships and National Championships.

Our Club has helped to nurture many champion swimmers including Ashley Delaney, Jeremy Meyer, Jeremy Saunders, Andrew Cameron and Sam Ashby.  Many more will join that list as annually our swimmers are producing great results.


– Reflections of Brian Ford, Head Coach (written in 2007 ~ for the 50 years Anniversary Celebration)

One day you will look back and say:


What do you remember about your time with the Traralgon Swimming Club? When I started swimming in Gippsland, it was 1964 with the now defunct Yallourn Swimming Club. Yallourn was the powerhouse Club of the 60’s winning many of the local competitions and finishing 2nd and 3rd at Country Championship level.

In 1964 there was no heated pool with the season not starting until November and Club’s doing a “rigorous land program” during the winter months. I remember having a great time at the Army barracks in Yallourn going through our once a week routine of star jumps, running, ball games and the like getting ready for the pool opening on the “first Saturday in November” when the real training began.

Older swimmers I looked up to at the time – Roger Dolphin, Trevor Dolphin, Penny Stitson, John Huberts were legends as far as I was concerned and I just liked being part of the “group”. A girl called Erna Kimberley was the most memorable, not for the obvious reasons, but I distinctly remember her always having a smoke after every training session and giving me one to practise on when I was barely 7 years of age (no wonder I never smoked again after that episode – I think I nearly choked to death!).

Competitions seemed to be on every week as soon as the “pig pool” opened. Venues like Orbost (long, long trip), Trafalgar (33 meters), Mirboo North (15 meters, brown like the Yarra and no gutters) and Bairnsdale (the pool was the Mitchell River and they set up lanes across it which of course were never straight) made each trip memorable. The roads were nothing like they are now and each competition was “a big day out”. What fun they were!

The Traralgon Swimming Club back then meant nothing to me – I was young, our family lived in Yallourn, I swam for Yallourn and I loved it.

In 1966, my father commenced work as Manager of the Morwell Pool, so of course I became a Morwell swimmer and I was devastated. I loved Yallourn and wanted to stay, but at 8 years of age I had no say in the matter.

Morwell was a terrific Club and became very powerful when the first heated pool in Gippsland – Poolside – opened under the management of Raymond Johnson.

How many of you here today remember training at Poolside? All the local Clubs used to have their 2-3 hours a week at Poolside during the winter months and I know Traralgon was no exception.

How I remember as an 8 year old training across the pool, at one end doing up to 200 laps, three times a week, when learn-to-swim lessons were taking place at the other end. Mind you the pool was only 8 meters wide and 16 meters long, so it wasn’t that impressive.

Now, I do not wish this piece to be a life story but at 48 years of age, I think back and realise how difficult it must have been in those first 9 years from 1957 to 1966 for swimmers, parents and supporters – no indoor pool, no heating, no chlorination to speak of, no caps, no goggles, bathers with modesty flaps, judges stands, no idea about hydration, nutrition, psychology… the list goes on.


My time with the Traralgon Swimming Club is 2 years from 1972/1974 and from 1983 until now – 25 years, yet I still don’t feel I know the history of the Club. I look back in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and see one Gippsland Championship victory, in 1972/73, yet I know the hard work that went into the running of the Club and its swimmers during each of these decades.

Never, and still to this day, having a heated pool of its own, the Club has always done an enormous job with the facilities and places it has trained. Poolside, as I mentioned; the Action Plus Squash Courts Pool (10 meters long), our Learn to Swim pool at home (17 meters long), Willung South, Churchill, Traralgon Cricket Centre Pool, Traralgon Outdoor, Morwell Outdoor & Indoor, Moe and Leongatha, have all been venues for our training over the past 50 years and we have turned out some tremendous swimmers and had some great times.

Our successes in the pool in this millennium have seen us win 7 of the last 8 Country Championships; 8 out of 8 Gippsland Championships; 1 Gold, 4 Silver and 5 Bronze Medals at National Age level and many National/Age finalists. Two of our past swimmers – Ashley Delaney and Sam Ashby are on the edge of the Australian team. We have come a long way yet we have a long way to go – the ride has been, and always will be, lots of fun.

I hope the people here tonight who have been a part of the Club in its 50 year history are proud of what the Club was, when they were there, and proud of what the Club is today. As current Head Coach of this Club (which has been a privilege), all our successes are not defined by the ribbons, trophies, medals and awards won, but when you say to yourself “I remember when I was in the Club…..” and some terrific memories comes flooding back to you.