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 Reflections of Founding Member - Bob Carlon Minimize
Bob Carlon - a founding member of the club.
Bob Carlon was a founding member of the club.

He took on the Presidents roll in the clubs first year and continued to guide its growth and development over the next 10 years.

He continued to support the club for many years after and his valued dedication and contribution was recognized by the members in awarding him the Club’s first Life Membership in 1994.

Bob was part of a 4x50m Freestyle Relay Team of (Bill Harris, Jack Winters and Jamie Jenkins) that broke a World Record (Short Course) in 1988 in a meet held at Campbelltown Pools NSW. A record which stood for six years.

We kicked off a long, long time ago. When the old pool at the East Esplanade, Manly was washed away in a storm a lot of swimmers in the district didn’t know where to swim and were not quite sure what they were going to do.

A few of us started to talk about forming a group to compete in older races. Bill Lough (Senior) gathered a group of swimmer together to form a new Club, which we did. But nothing was much organized in those days.

Masters Swimming started in USA in 1970.

Local swimming events were held in 1971 at the Harbord Diggers pool where there were 30 starters and in April of 1972 at the Sydney University Pool with 14 starters competing. There was no event held in 1973.

We received through Brian Mortenson, a member of our Club, and John Brownjohn who was in the St. George area, an invitation from the American Masters Association, to swim against them in a team. They were at the time doing a tour of New Zealand, Hono-lulu, and hoped to come to Australia, up to Japan and back to America.

The request was accommodated and we competed against them in 1974 at Heffron Park and we showed them how to swim. An invitation to compete was extended to Dawn Frazer and Des Renford (who swam the English Channel 19 times from 19 at-tempts). The American Team were absolutely amazed at the “AUSSI’s” performances. In the >75Yrs 400m race Fitz Lough (Manly) was the only Australian competitor in the event. He was the only one who got up on the blocks, the others started in the water below.

From that we decided that we would formalize our Club, which we did and Bill Lough was the first President.

An informal group of Sydney Masters swimmers then started to get together and Bill Lough attended on behalf of Manly. This was the start of Masters Swimming in NSW.

Jamie Jenkins and myself approached Paul McKay, the General Manager of Harbord Diggers at that time, and said that we would like to become one of the Club’s sections. Agreement was reached with a handshake deal and we obtained exclusive use of the Harbord Diggers pool on a Tuesday night.

The first Carnival that was ever held in the Masters group, and we called ourselves in those days Manly AUSSI, (we had to change that because they wouldn’t allow us to use the name AUSSI,) was held here in 1975.

When the Boy Charlton pool at Manly opened in 1978, we imposed on Manly Council to let us use the pool after hours on Sunday nights, which we did for free and were there a number of years.

There were some marvellous swimmers in those early days. The certainly set their mark not only in Sydney but also in NSW and Australia.

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