Whitworth Swimming Pool was opened in August 1972 and our club was formed shortly afterwards.
Initially it was only held on Wednesday evenings and children had to be a minimum of 7 years old to join. Amongst the founder members were Jack and Audrey Hoyle who remained staunch organisers and teachers for many many years. At first there was only one qualified teacher and three or four volunteers. In spite of this the club went from strength to strength and we soon had to have Tuesday evenings as well. We also started to take children from the age of five. It was several years before the small pool was built but it soon became very well used by our new members.
A late session on Wednesday evenings for teaching adults proved to be very popular and ran from around 1975 right up until about 1993 when it evolved into Aquafit. In the mid seventies the Rossendale Friendly League was formed and we started to take part in competitive Galas even to the extent of doing early morning training twice a week. During this time we, the ‘teachers’ took various courses and from then kept up to date with qualifications both in swimming teaching and life-saving.
It was in 1977 that we first started to make enquiries about an exchange visit with our twin town of Kandel in Germany and in July 1978 we played host to a party of children from the DLRG (The German equivalent of our Royal Life saving Society). This was such a success that WSC made the return visit the following year and this was the start of exchange trips nearly every year right up to this present day. Many lasting friendships have been formed over the years even resulting in a marriage.
Around 1984/5 we formed a Water Polo team and entered the Central Lancashire League and although we were never hugely successful in the water it became a very social group and was supported by all the older girls in the club. Thus, very shortly afterwards, a ladies team came into being and an era of great fun, travel and support for each other will be fondly remembered by all those involved. Sadly, both teams dissolved when our pool was closed for eight months in 1992/3 for a major refurbishment although some members did go on to play at Rochdale Swimming Club.
During the refurbishment of the pool some teachers took advantage of the break and took ASA courses for instructing Aquafit (water aerobics) and we used the Tuesday pool hire slot vacated by water polo training to start sessions in this. It proved so popular that our Wednesday evening adult lessons also began in include Aquafit as well. The other teachers quickly dropped off but I continued to instruct these classes for nine years until shortly before the Pool was closed by Rossendale Borough Council in July 2002.
The closure of the pool, the condition of which had been allowed to deteriorate badly by RBC, happened when we were in Kandel but on our return we, the swimming club, immediately called a public meeting in the old Civic Hall. There was a huge turn-out and from that meeting CLAW and a Fund Raising Committee were formed, mainly by swimming club teachers, helpers and parents, with the intention of re-opening the pool. Please follow the link to CLAW for more details.
When the pool re-opened in July 2003 we were amazed how quickly our members returned and the club resumed normal activities, although we had been able to continue with a few groups at other pools during the closure. The club continues to thrive to the present day...