Club History

The history of the B.A.S.C. (which was formed on April 7th 1926) could not
have been written without the impetus given to its formation by the building of
the Cold Knap Swimming Pool. The Club and the Pools future success were
guaranteed on its opening in May of the same year. The Club now had a pool in
which to swim and the pool needed a regular attendance and the publicity of
galas and other events held by the Club in order to attract visitors there. Many
of the swimmers who came to compete, because of its size and the facilities
offered there, together with the enthusiasm shown by the Club’s founders became
members. Teams from South Wales and further afield quickly made Barry a regular
fixture on their sporting calendar bringing not only swimmers to Barry but
visitors to stay. Mr. Hugh Lightbody who was employed as a beach
inspector/lifeguard offered to act as coach to the Barry Club.

In August of the same year the Welsh Swimming Association with members of
the Barry Club taking part held a second Gala. Although a strong wind was
blowing across the pool and the water was very choppy a diving display was given
by Mary Yorke, the Midlands Diving Champion and Leigh McEwen, the Welsh Diving
Champion from Porthcawl.

The 1st Gala held by the Barry Club was held on 11th September, one of
the main events was a Water Polo Match organized by Paolo Radmilovic. A group of
invited players represented South Wales formed Radmilovic’s Team and their
opposing team representing West Wales opened the gala. Amongst the many events
were Boys and Girls Squadron Races for competitors still at School, 50 yards
Handicap for Girls, 30 yards Open Race for Girls, Ladies and Gents Diving
Competitions, 60 yards Ladies Open Handicap and 30 yards Scratch race for
Schoolgirls, the winner of this race to receive the Powell Cup. The Gala
finished with the 500 yards Welsh Ladies Handicap. At the end of the Gala Mr.
Radmilovic was presented with an inscribed gold medal in recognition of his help
in establishing the Club and organizing the Gala.

The following year the 1st Club H.Q. was built, the contractor was
Messrs. Brittons, the building was of wooden construction and cost £102.

In 1927 the club was selected to be the venue for the ‘Sladen Squadron
Trophy Races’ a singular honour for a club that had only been in existence for a
year. In September of the same year the club advertised ‘The Greatest Swims
Organised in Barry’ this was an open event consisting of a mile swim for men and
an 880 yards swim for ladies. Many county championships entered the races, which
finished with a fun team event ‘The Daily Mail Push Ball Competition’.

1928 saw the club fully established at the Knap with plans for three
galas to be held there that year. The first gala was held in June and was
confined to club members only. Over 2000 spectators arrived to watch the
swimmers compete and other attractions put on for their entertainment by the
club. A water polo match between ‘possibles’ and ‘probables’ took place to
select members of a Water Polo Team to represent Britain in the Olympic
Games. The end of the season saw Mr. (Hughie) Lightbody appointed as swimming
instructor for schools and coach for the swimming club.

On Tuesday 20th of January 1932 the 1st Junior Swimming Club Dance was held
at the Merrie Friars and over 200 junior members attended. The Club’s Chairman
Cllr. Maslin congratulated the committee, Messrs. E. Ford (Treasurer), Chris
Jones (Captain/Coach) and Sid Miles (Secretary) on organising such a successful
event and hoped that it would become an annual event.

At the AGM of the club held in February the same year, the Club Treasurer
reported that it was the first year since its formation that the Club was free
of debt and that the cost of the clubhouse had been met in full. He stated that
owing to the bad weather the Club had recently experienced, holding galas was a
risk, but one the club had to take. Both the Club’s water polo teams (senior and
junior) had performed well and it augured well for the future of the Club.

Over the years the club had produced many excellent swimmers and had
entered for many competitions and prior to the demises of such events; The Taff
Swim, The Neath River Swim, The Thames Swim and the Ilfracombe Sea Swims. It had
also taken part in many Lifesaving Courses organised by the Royal Lifesaving
Society.

In 1945 the pool reopened after the war with the Club organising an
Aquatic Gala in Carnival Week in aid of the ‘Welcome Home Fund’. Teams from RAF
St. Athan, Penarth and Barry competed, together with a number of exhibitions
given by teams and individuals form Newport, Merthyr, Cardiff and Pontypridd
swimming clubs. As part of Carnival Week a ‘Miss Barry’ competition was held at
the pool and the winner was presented with a silver cup.

1950 saw the opening of a new clubhouse which was built on the base of
former barrage balloon site it also saw the club go from strength to strength
with the start of the Channel Swim which went on to become an annual event in
the club’s calendar.

1951 was the year of the Festival of Britain in which the club entered a
competition for the ‘Corona Cup’ presented by Thomas and Evans. Teams from
Cardiff, Aberdare, Merthyr, Pontypridd and Neath competed. Barry won all the
squadron races.

1952 started with the opening splash on the 24th of May, members of the
club, Esme Burge, Jill Roberts, Pat Eddins and Jean Campbell were selected to
swim for Barry in the Welsh Schools Squadron Race, which they won. Later in the
year Barry competed in a triangular match against Pontypridd and Aberdare. Barry
won 14 out of 19 events and came second in the five they didn’t win. In the
Marine Festival ‘Goudache Zwemclub’ a team from Holland visited Barry and the
Police Race for the Gethin Lewis Cup was revived.

August 22nd, 23rd and 24th the Swimming and Diving Championships of
Wales, which were organised by the Club under the auspices of the W.A.S.A., were
held at the pool. The compere and M.C. for the competition was Mr. Sid
Miles. Ann Jones of Barry took second place in the 440 yards to Olympic
representative P. M. Linton from Maindee, who set a new Welsh record for the
event, Ann came third in the 220 yards. In the Welsh diving championships
Barry’s Jean Foster was placed second. 13 year old Jean Campbell won both the
junior and School Championships for the second year running.

By 1971 the club had to limit membership and the club night changed from
Fridays to Tuesdays, Friday nights would be retained as a training night for
competition swimmers only. The total membership on the club’s books was over
270. Club training night at RAF St. Athan saw a regular attendance of over 65
competitive swimmers.

In 1976 at the club’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Ray Sutton commended
the names of former members and officials for the work they had done to
establish the name and reputation of the club over the years. In the 50’s a
number of members names stood out more than most, they were: Ralph Davies, Barry
Dawe, Ian Birchenhough, Len Andrews, Gordon Vick, Frank Dallimore, Dave Dunning,
Ann Jones (the first Barry born swimmer to represent Wales), Jean Foster, Deryn
Tresise, Jill Roberts, Jean Campbell, Jeanette Hoskins and Joyce Taylor. Joyce,
who had previously been selected for the Welsh team, was not born in Barry.

Names of other members who had brought honour to the club in the 60’s
were also commended. They were Hugh Thomas, John Mayne, Paul Visser, the Sutton
brothers, John Davies, Russell Blythe, Roger Martin, Neil Davies together with
the following lady members: Sally O’Donnell, Mandy Sillett, Stephanie Archer,
Sian Jones, Gill Thomas, Lynne Williams, the Fifield and the Griffiths sisters
and Jackie Whitey.

None of these swimmers would have reached the heights that they attained
without the coaching and dedication of the officers of the club, amongst whom
the names of Harry Baker, Bill Bravey, Ann Jones, George Rix, Neil O’Donnell,
Brian Hutchings, Ray Sutton, Frank Hobbs and Thelma Jones stand out. Ossie
Williams should be singled out not only for his help in coaching the club, but
for his efforts in obtaining the use of the pool at RAF St. Athan on Friday
nights for over 30 years, for training in the winter months. The help and
co-operation of the P.Ed. Staff at St. Athan was greatly appreciated and helped
the club compete successfully in the many galas held over the year.

1982 saw the club move to the newly opened Barry Leisure Centre, where
for the first time in its long history it was able to offer competitive swimming
and coaching all year round. In so doing it gave up the use of the facilities it
had enjoyed over the years at the pools at the Knap, RAF St. Athan, Penarth and
the Polytechnic of Wales pool in the former Barry Training College. For some
time training for youngsters was also catered for in the Bryn Hafren
Pool. Unfortunately the pool proved too shallow to hold any of Welsh Amateur
Swimming Championships.

In 1985 the sudden death of one of the stalwarts of the club, Ray Sutton,
came as a tremendous shock to the club. Ray, ably assisted by his wife Grace, was
not only the secretary and the chief coach, he was also one of the prime movers
in the establishment of the club in its new headquarters. A permanent reminder
of his services was the presentation of a cup named after him, by the ladies
committee and to be competed for annually at the Ray Sutton Memorial Gala.

In 1986 the 1st Vale of Glamorgan Championships were held in Cogan
Leisure Centre. 1999 saw the closure of the pool for repairs and the club found
itself in the position of a serious drop of over 50% in membership, this
together with an increase in fees and transport costs for the hire of an
alternative pool in which to train, nearly spelt the end of the club. Training
came almost to a standstill while the pool was being repaired and consequently
many fixtures that usually took place at the Leisure Centre were cancelled.

Looking through the club’s records, there are so many names of competitors
who gained honours from the club and represented the club in numerous
competitions and galas that it would be impossible to include them all in this
brief history. The only exception is Julie Crayford, who in the past few years
has broken more Welsh Masters records than any swimmer in the club’s
history. Also the many members and parents who act as assistant coaches and
helpers both at the poolside and in organising social functions and trips away
to fixtures.
The success of any club is not the amount of silverware it accumulates,
but in the atmosphere it creates in organising social and other events and in
its coaching. The Barry Club has been very fortunate in both spheres with the
appointment of coaches. Hugh Lighbody from 1926-45 and from 1946-52 of Harry
Baker, but neither would have had the success without the band of assistant
coaches drawn from the ranks of swimmers to assist them. From 1952-2004 coaches
Ossie Williams, Ann Jones, Thelma Jones (Roberts), Ray Sutton, Ken Griffin, Glyn
Davies and Jacquie Latter. Stephanie Cody and current chief coach Cherrie Temple
who, together with a dedicated team on poolside, aim to bring future success to
the club.