The first public swimming baths in Maryborough were floating baths built last century in the Mary River. These baths were swept away by a flood in the 1890's. These were replaced in 1906 by a 33 yard (30 m) pool adjacent to the local council gardens near the river. George Ambrose White, a local widower had donated the then huge sum of 1000 pound towards its construction after a local boy drowned swimming in the Mary River.
The water was initially unfiltered river water. Attempts to use bore water had failed. Competitive swimming began around 1922 with the Mary River Swimming Club. The Club flourished on and off for a few short years till 1934 when a bitter dispute between officials and swimmers over financial assistance to go to the State Championships caused a walk out of some very talented swimmers. Two of these were Merv Witt, an Australian 1650 yard (1500 metres) champion and Tom Mutta King, the first Queenslander to break 60 seconds for 100 yards. They then competed for the Bundaberg Club. The Mary River Swimming Club soon folded.
The 1920's and 1930's era at Maryborough was memorable for exhibition swimmers such as Boy Charlton, the Swedish Champion Arne Borg and a Japanese Hawaiian, Kyosho Nakama. Each demonstrated styles, which were copied with great success by Maryborough swimmers. There was a free learn to swim program in 1936 which boosted local numbers of swimmers and interest in a new competitive club.
In 1938 Dr. Bendeich chaired a meeting which formed the Maryborough Amateur Swimming Club. Dr.Bendeich was the first President. Arthur Cusack, an 18 year old swimmer was the first Secretary. Percy Kramer, a local draper was the Treasurer. The President, his daughter-in-law Diane later and the Secretary were to have a long association with the Queensland Swimming Association. Arthur Cusack has been and still was up to 1999 the QSA representative for the Maryborough Club and was well known as a swimming coach until his death in January 2000.
Competitive swimming soon flourished again with the return of talented swimmers and regular training. A talented Canadian swimmer, Walter Spence coached the swimmers for a month after the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney.
World War 2 saw a decline in swimming but bounced back after. Some of the swimmers were returning servicemen resuming their competitive swimming. Ken Laing, a long time active member of the club to the early 1990's was one of these returned servicemen. He had served with the Navy from 1943 to 1946. Record books of this era show a keen field of local and visiting swimmers vying for Baths records from 1650 yards freestyle down to breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle 33 yard to 220 yard (30-200m). David Theile was one swimmer breaking backstroke records who went on to Olympic gold medal fame. He was coached initially by Des Ramsay and later by Arthur Cusack. Bill Ramsey was another coach of this era.
Other regular record breakers were Tom Mutta King, Ken Harper, Paul Goener, Des Petersen, Barry Tudman and Des Ramsay. Females were Helen and Alison Theile, B. Bryant, D. Grant, J.Kinghorn. Queensland State politician Ken McElligott got in the record books for butterfly in 1953 and 1954. Hayden Kenny set records in 1955 in 220 and 880 yard Freestyle. Tom Mutta King almost died from a long distance underwater competition at an old molasses tank at Doolbi Creek during an interclub swim there. Paul Goener continued as a Masters swimmer right through his life and has broken many Masters butterfly records.
The 1950's were the golden era for the Maryborough Swimming Club with David Theile winning gold in the 100m backstroke in the Melbourne 1956 and the Rome 1960 Olympics despite studying to be a doctor in between. Arthur Cusack introduced a controversial backstroke turn and a bent arm stroke to assist David Theile in his quest for Olympic gold. The turn and stroke were later adopted by other backstrokers.
Barry Tudman and John O'Donoghue shone at State and National level. Ann Nelson was a finalist at the Cardiff Empire Games in 1958. Other swimmers to figure prominently at state level were Paul Goener, Hayden Kenny and Graham Tait. Paul Goener was a State medallist.
Coach Arthur Cusack left Maryborough in 1958. Regarding coaching, it should be pointed out that swimmers often changed coaches. This is sometimes a bone of contention when one coach alone gets credit for a certain swimmer's success.
The new Olympic Pool in John Street was opened in 1961 but was unfortunately a 55 yard pool which was 300 mm longer than 50 metres and was shortened in the early 1970's to 50 metres. The first pool caretaker was Hayden Kenny.
The new pool lacked facilities and adequate lighting for night swimming but never the less swimmers vied to set new records in the new pool. Some said the new pool lacked the atmosphere of the old pool where the closeness of the crowd created its own special excitement.
Prominent names of the early sixties were Ian Kennedy, Peter Emery, (who was still a prominent AUSSI masters swimmer in 2000) Charlie Raines and Karen Izard. Some swimmers were now children of an earlier generation of swimmers. Hayden Kenny did some coaching in the early 1960ís.
A tireless executive urged the council to provide spectator stands. Charles Adams, a former Mayor donated money for the stands and is recognised by a plague at one end of the stands. Funds were raised by the club through treble tickets and cent auctions to provide the recording and club rooms. Later additions provided by the club were the Gym, time keepers shelter and store room.
The club secured the lease of the pool during the 1970's and still held it in the new millennium. This insured a guaranteed use of the pool for training and competition subject to council guidelines.
A prominent name of Maryborough swimming has been Larry Sengstock who later starred with the Brisbane Bullets basketball team. He set many records at regional level and competed well at State level in the early to mid 1970's. He competed later as a basketballer in Olympic competition. Some of his records still stood in 2000.
Coaching in this era was mainly parent coaches. Prominent were Les Christensen, Ross Bews and Ivan Hodgekinson. Learn-to-swim and advanced learn-to-swim were done at times by Jess Woodward and Heather Winton. For the 1976/1977 season an ex Olympian swimmer, Greg Brough was contracted as the sole coach. Greg believed that champion swimmers were made not born and that hard training would make any ordinary swimmer into a champion. His hard long training was not always popular and he lasted only one season. Electronic timing including touch pads were purchased by the club in 1977. Despite water intrusion and sensitivity problems initially they were used up to 2011.
Coach Ivan Hodgekinson in late 1978 did one more season of coaching to be followed by Jess Woodward in 1979/1979 who was ahead of her time in some ways, as she believed as coaches do now that motivation, the right swimmer psychology and good stroke technique were essential to good squad swimming. There were, however, many parents who still believed that coaches needed to be stern sergeant majors who bellowed their orders to swimmers, but this was a dying image model.
The club in the 1970ís begun a tradition of weekend away billeted interclub swims with Brisbane swimming clubs Acacia and Aspley with Maryborough returning the favour the following year. These interclub swims were sought after memorable occasions for swimmers. At Aspley they were often billeted with wealthy families each with a backyard swimming pool. Top class swimmers from the Brisbane Swimming Association also competed here. Up to 5 other interclub swims each season were held with Wide Bay Clubs. Nambour, Gympie, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Fairymead, Isis and Burrum were competed against. Maryborough was then and still is an active club in the Wide Bay Swimming Association which holds yearly championships. The club began the annual Relay carnival in the mid 1970ís.
The Timber City Carnival begun in 1982 and was later called the Heritage City Carnival. It attracts individual entries from the Wide Bay mainly and beyond.
There has been a decline in the late 1970's of State and National representation. The 1982 Commonwealth Games saw an uplift in the State level of swimming generally which couldn't be matched by local swimmers. This left Kym Vollmerhause and Lyn Henderson as the last gold medallist at State or National level till after 2005. Kym briefly held a national breaststroke record. Shane Herbert aspired to be selected as a Commonwealth Games swimmer but an unfortunate broken leg saw a major lay off in training. He won a gold medal in the 200 metre breaststroke at the 1985 State Titles whilst competing for the Brisbane Leander Club. Other swimmers of note in the 1980's were Andrew King, Darren Carnell, Sari Williams and Angela Robertson. Darren Carnell pursued a brief career as a professional tri-athlete and competed in the Tooheyís Blue mini triathlons. Up to 95 swimmers competed on Thursday club nights.
Coaches of the 1980ís were Max Fisher, Greg Bush, Barry Johns, Julie Robinson, Peter Craft, Graham Gillian. Each had his own style. Max was a firm coach who was successful in coaching to national championships Kim Vollmerhause and Shane Herbert. Greg Bush was a successful motivator as was Peter Craft. Barry Johns and Julie Robinsonís stints as coach were brief but did bring to the fore some good swimmers. Graham Gillian had his followers as well as his detractors.
The club became an incorporated body in 1985 and dropped the word Amateur in the name.
Computers were introduced to run carnivals and club nights efficiently. Prior to this, programs for club nights were laboriously written up and had to be pressed hard for four duplicates. Carnivals were seeded manually and then typed up. Reseeding for finals on the day had to be done by hand. A time keepers shelter, waveless ropes and gym were added in the 1980ís.
The club, since the early 1980's saw a need for a heated pool for winter training and at one stage even considered building a heated pool itself. Swimmers had been outclassed by swimmers who had a heated pool to train with in winter. Despite this club swimmers were breaking records up to late 1995.
In 1995 a heated 25 metre pool was constructed where the wading pool use to be after lobbying behind the scenes by President Dr Tom Dunn and completed during his reign as president. This has raised the standard of swimming and many 50 metre records have been broken by swimmers training throughout the year, though State medals have eluded the top club swimmers until Bradley Byrne.
Coaches of the 1990ís were Bill Dempsey, Ray Stephenson and his sons Adam and Jason. The latter being the longest contracted coach. Jason had a relaxed style to coaching which suited recreational swimmers. Swimmers who have broken a number of club records in the 50 metre pool in 1990's have been Peter Christen, Fiona Kehoe, Kelly Stallard, Brendan Andrews, Jennifer Brett and Malcolm Rudolph. Local record breakers in the 50 metre pool in the first years of 2000 are Bradley Byrne, Kane Driver, Thomas Axelsen, Kieran Rodgers and David McCawley. The following swimmers have each set a number of records in the 25 metre heated pool; Belinda Stallard, Emma James, Anna Manski, Eliza Wheeler, Shelley Wiegand, Angela Hanson, Hayley Dymock and Craig Dennis.
In 2004 Jason had two promising swimmers in Bradley Byrne and Kane Driver. Both were coached for the National championships. In September 2004, Adrian Williams replaced Jason as coach. He came from Miami where world class swimmers were trained like Grant Hackett.
Bradley Byrne (born 1988) has been the most promising Maryborough swimmer since Olympian David Theile in 1956 and 1960. Bradley shone from 2004 to 2008 when he retired from hard training. He was coached by Jason Stephenson and then Adrian Williams in late 2004. He set times which would have won him Olympic medals 50 years earlier. His times at the March 2008 Olympic selection trials were 50.49 s for 100 m freestyle, 56.83 s for 100 m backstroke and 55.49 s for 100 m butterfly. He won numerous Wide Bay, National and State medals. Also he did well at the Oceanic Games in New Zealand. Although not selected for the Beijing Olympics, he was offered a scholarship at the Australian institute of Sport in 2008 but later decided to retire. In between hard training he coached junior swimming squads.
Sally Wheeler (born 1993) was an outstanding achiever in her field of Paralympics from around 2005 to 2010. She was picked in 2008 for the Paralympics 2 team which was a target squad for the London 2012 Olympics. Competing in Germany was a highlight of her swimming career. Sally could outpace some able bodied swimmers of her age despite her arm disability. She retired from competitive swimming in 2011.
Jade Cassidy broke a long standing freestyle record in this period. Hayden Davis came second in the State 1500 metres freestyle and was in the top ten in each stroke in the 2008/9 season. Peter Primavera was second in the 13 years 100 metre breaststroke State Championships in the 2010/11 season.
During the first decade of 2000 the Council saw a more urgent need to replace the 50 metre pool and revamp the Aquatic Centre. In February 2010 the Maryborough Swimming was informed by the Council that a 25 metre10 lane pool was the preferred option to replace the 50 metre pool. The Swimming Club lobbied hard against this option assisted by the community. Public opinion won over the Council who opted later that year for a 50 metre pool with 8 Fina standard 2.5 metre lanes which can host world record recognised carnivals. The closure in October 2011 for rebuilding of the pool has been a major layoff for the Club with training now by a small number of swimmers at Hervey Bay and Aldridge pool. Mike Roberts coached at the Aldridge pool. Reopening will be late November 2012.
A history of the Maryborough Swimming Club would not be complete without mentioning the hard working presidents, secretaries, treasurers, carnivals directors, computer operators, club night program convenors and other officials.
Presidents are the natural leaders of a club who guide the club towards improvements, changes and maintain unity. Some presidents like Tom Dunn have permanent physical reminders of their efforts. Tom lobbied behind the scenes with the council to have the 25 metre heated pool built. Ray Senstock, Ray Ash, Terry Herbert and Nev Dunn presided over many additions for competitive swimming from the recording room, electronic touch pads, clubroom, gym, waveless ropes to the time-keepers shelter.
Secretaries are the day-to-day workers of a club who keep the correspondence flowing. Some secretaries have had to forgo full time work to do this. Treasurers are busy too with the club having the lease of the pool. Good carnival directors/program convenors are essential for smooth running carnivals and club nights. Computer operators and record keepers spend long hours entering new times and records.
Collated by Doug Walker
Active involvement 1971-1973 and 1978-2012
The Maryborough Swimming Club has not been shy with trying an innovative idea or new technology and was one of the first in Queensland to have electronic timing in 1977. This was purchased from an Australian company using money from the lucrative treble tickets that the club ran then.
The purpose of electronic timing was to give more accurate timing and placing of swimmers as well as the faster running of carnivals. Technical glitches such as water intrusion into the touch-pads which caused reliability problems have largely been overcome and now the electronic timing works with a high degree of reliability. The call to "please touch the touch-pads firmly" is not heard so often due to the improvement in touch-pad sensitivity later on.
Computers, radio headsets and other innovations.
The Maryborough Club was an early user of computers in 1986 to process club night and carnival entries and races. This came at a time when few parents used a computer at work or home. Previously, before a club night up to five parents would shuffle cards for swimmers into heats of events and then would press hard with a biro to write up heats on five layers of duplicating paper for officials. After club night a parent would laboriously update the cards from the race results. Only two parents were required for club night entering after the computer was used.
Previous to computers a bevy of parents would seed big carnival races and write them up for a typist to prepare the carnival programme. Type errors were frequent. A big advantage of a computer carnival program is the time saved and the fact that late entries and corrections can be inserted up to four days before a carnival.
The club was the first to use radio headsets for marshals to advise of any combined events and the chief timekeeper to advise of any requested manual times. This sped up race result processing in the recording box.
The flash unit on the cap gun and starting horn has greatly improved manual time accuracy and is well regarded by visiting clubs.
The Maryborough Club has prided itself on running large individual entry carnivals well. This has come about by the use of appropriate technology and having the right person in the many jobs on the day. The club gained great praise for its problem free running of the 2002 Heritage Carnival which was the fastest ever run by the club with an average two minutes per event. 20 years earlier a carnival with that mix of distance events would average around 2 minutes 30 seconds per event taking an hour and half longer.
This has come about by over the top starting, clearing the pool during 50m races, extra referees, improved electronic timing reliability, better time recording practices and no hold ups in marshalling. Parents and officials do appreciate the time saved.
The club received considerable praise for it's hosting of the 2003 Wide Bay Regional Championships. The Carnival Director, Glyn Peatey was not shy to try different ideas and most have been winners.
The club has good facilities for major carnivals such as waveless ropes, covered timekeeper area and electronic timing.
Typical carnival, Heritage City 2003
Prior to any carnival preparations are made early for a smooth run carnival. All equipment is checked and officials secured. The pool is decked out early in the morning with the coloured waveless ropes, backstroke flags and touch-pads with their trademark dolphin. The scene up the pool is very colourful. Various parents man the door and catering area. 206 swimmers have entered from all over the Wide Bay. The swimming starts after the ceremonial firing of the time cannon around 8.45am and a short speech by the Mayor, Alan Brown. Up to four referees are on deck to speed the clearing of the pool. There are bursts of cheering with each close finish. The starter no longer has to worry so much about swimmers jumping the start since the first start disqualification rule was brought in. Marshals bring up swimmers to the blocks early using headsets to communicate with the recording box and check starters. In the air conditioned recording box the beep as each swimmer finishes is heard regularly. The electronic timing operator is busy observing finishes and then readying the timing for the next race. Missed touches are collected during the next race using headsets. Beside him is a mother doing a very onerous job transcribing the electronic timing results from place order into lane order for handing on to the computer operator. Another parent is checking pool and meet records. Another is doing the announcing. A sixth person is taking out results for pinning up. Outside a steady stream of swimmers are receiving medals but no stopping of the carnival or fanfare over the P.A. as was the case 20 years ago. The Town Crier in full regalia presents most of the medals in the morning. Stand out swimmers are Joshua Berghuis, Zea Phillips, Amy Levings, Chantelle Wolfenden and Nick Johnston. Nick breaks a record every time he swims and as a tall 12 year old there is talk that he will be another Ian Thorpe.
Suddenly, there is a "buzz" in the recording room as the disabled swimmer Chantelle Wolfenden claims that her time is a world record for her disability. This involves some paper work and signing of electronic timing printouts for passing onto the world body for disabled records.
This carnival goes like clockwork. After dinner the carnival is sped up with over the top starting as rain is imminent. The carnival ends early after around 180 races at 3pm without rain.
Collated by Doug Walker (Life Member)