History of the Army Swimming Union (ASU)
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Preface by Andy Morton
The brief history of the Army Swimming Union (ASU) that follows, has been compiled by Lieutenant Colonel Andy Morton, a Life Vice President, from earlier editions of “Games and Sports in the Army” and his own records and memories which span from 1955. It is also written as a tribute to Brigadier G de V Welshman, late Royal Artillery, who was President of the ASA in 1953, acknowledging his untimely death following a road accident, Private Fred Langrick, Prince of Wales Own, who was killed in action in Aden in 1966 whist at the time the holder of the Inter-Services Individual Medley title, diver Warrant Officer Dave Bellemy, APTC killed whilst on active service in Northern Ireland in1979 during the time he was the Army’s Diving Coach and Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie McLeod REME whose untimely death occurred, whilst still serving, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Woolwich in 1980 and whose contribution to Army swimming and Water Polo was immeasurable. At this time and remembered as well are Major Dickie Pratt RAOC and In Pensioner “Bomber” Boileau, late RCT, who passed away during 2006.
It is a great short coming of this document that so many names have not been recorded even though, by their sporting efforts, they deserve to be there. What is recognised that a great number of swimmers, divers and polo players have competed since 1920, many year on year, to keep the service at the forefront of the sport regardless of other personal or military commitments. Whether they won or lost in their events, their pride in taking part under Army Colours has always been noticeable and their poolside support for their colleagues deafening and unstinting. One person who should be named here is freestyler Lieutenant Colonel John Elliot RAOC who was a bomb disposal expert. Whilst serving in Aden in 1964 his extensive and courageous work saw him being awarded a George Medal for leading his team in neutralising over 150 explosive devices successfully.
The script is in two Parts with factual listings as annexures. This is because the document has been written with a time span of some twenty-five years between these two parts and undoubtedly the style will have altered! The annexures have been reviewed as well. The later Part comes at the request of the Secretary who in 2002 felt an update was appropriate in recognition of the more recent Army swimming activities.
Lastly, I am indebted to Lieutenant Colonel R Sippe, Lieutenant Colonel C Scotcher and Mrs J Morton for taking the time to check the script and add to the content as necessary.
PART ONE –THE EARLY YEARS
Dear God, I like the Lords prayer best of all. Did you have to write it a lot or did you get it right the first time? I have to write everything I ever write over again.
Lois from “Children’s letters to God”.
The Army Swimming Association was formed in 1920 under the acting Honorary Secretaryship of Major A Webb DCM. In that year the first Army Swimming Championship Meeting was held at Aldershot, the events consisting of 100 yards Freestyle, 440 yards Freestyle, a Unit Team Relay Race, an event of two lengths swum by four individuals, plus Spring-board and High-board Diving. In 1921 Lieutenant L H Churcher APTS was appointed the first permanent swimming sports Honorary Secretary. The events for that season’s Army Championship Meet were kept the same as the previous year, but with the addition of a two length Variety Race. Plunging was added to the existing events the following year, 1922.
During 1923 the name of the Association was amended to the Army Swimming Union (ASU) in order to distinguish it from that of the National body, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). By 2008 neither title has changed! Gaining recognition were 100 yards Breast Stroke and 100 yards Backstroke so these were added to the Championships whilst the Variety Race proved to be short lived and was dropped. Also Standard Certificates were first issued for that year, but these too were replaced in 1924 by bronze, standard medals. Because of postings, the position of Honorary Secretary changed as well with Captain F A Hewat MC APTS taking over. Finally, in 1924, the first Inter-Services Swimming Championship Meeting was held and resulted as a tie between the two Services, the Navy and the Army, who made up the competition.
BETWEEN THEWORLD WAR YEARS
The award of Army Colours for swimming was sanctioned during 1925. Qualifying for the award were those who gained first, second or third places in Army Championship individual events. They in turn were granted permission to wear an ASU costume badge. Captain G deV Welchman DSO RA assumed the duties of Hon Secretary in 1926 and held this post for ten years during which time he accomplished invaluable work in helping to raise the standard of Army swimming. In 1926 more events were added to the annual event list. These included a 100 yards race for Enlisted Boys, 100 yards Freestyle and a 220 yards Freestyle event restricted to members of the Territorial Army. At this stage the then President of the ASU, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Butler, presented a Challenge Trophy for the Unit Team Relay race. Today, this cup is still awarded now being given to the runners-up in the Senior Minor Units Team Competition.
The year1927 saw the entry of the Royal Air Force into the Inter-Services Championships and since then, with only a gap during the Second World War years, all three Services have taken part. At that Inter-Services, Lieutenant Colonel Allason achieved his unbeaten Plunge record of 82 feet 2.5 inches in an event much in fashion at that time. Also in 1927, the ASU became affiliated to the Amateur Swimming Association. This not only raised the standing of the Service in the sport’s community, but allowed the ASU to play part in the formation of the rules, laws and policy encompassing the amateur body. In 1929 the number of swimmers per team in the Inter Team Relay Event was increased to six, but the distance per man remained the same as before. The Spring board and High board diving events, meanwhile, were combined to become just one diving event at the Army Championships.
An 880 yards Freestyle swim was instituted in 1930 leaving the total number of races to remain unaltered until 1936 when Fancy Diving was introduced to make the Championships an eleven event contest. During 1938 rules were adjusted to permit all individuals who represented the Army in the Inter-Services to be entitled to be awarded one ASU costume badge free of charge. The next year it was decided that members of the Army Team should be issued, on loan for the duration of the tri-service meeting, an ASU costume with a badge attached. It was also agreed that members of the team could, if they so wished, purchase these costumes at a reduced fee!
The Army Inter-Unit Swimming Championships came into being in 1939 and a cup for this event was donated by the Army Sports Control Board (ASCB). This rose-bowl is now one of the two trophies presented following the annual water polo competition. Also during the year, the ASU tie in its first form was authorised by the General Committee and amongst those entitled to wear it were Army representatives, the President and the Hon Secretary. By the outbreak of war in September 1939, Army swimmers and water polo players enjoyed fixtures against the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, Lloyds Bank, the University of London, and the London swimming clubs of Otter and Penguin. The general standard of competitive swimming had steadily improved through the decade and it is worthy of note that four new records were established at the 1939 Army Championships. Following Major Welshman’s tenure as Hon Secretary was Captain G R S Drought who remained there until the outbreak of war.
THE IMMEDIATE POST WORLD WAR II YEARS
Between 1940 and 1945 no swimming championships took place everything remaining on hold. In 1946 Colonel EG Brown CBE became Hon Secretary and the ASCB appointed Mr Ted Savage as his Assistant. Colonel Brown’s swimming background was such that he was able to get things moving again with little fuss and the highlight of the ’46 Championships was Corporal R Steadman’s 100 yards Freestyle swim, when he smashed the existing pre-war record by 3.4 seconds covering the distance in 57.4 seconds. Also rectified was the issue of a costume and badges by becoming free to those entitled holders. In 1947 during the Inter-Services, Steadman broke the Inter-Services record for 220 yards when he covered the distance in 2.27.2, while the Army Freestyle Squad took the team relay in a new record time of 3.29.5.
At this stage it was recognised that those serving with the Indian Army and personnel of the Permanent Land Forces of the Dominions attached to home units could compete in the Army Championships and for the Army in the Inter-Services. An important milestone for 1947 was the inauguration of the Women’s Services in both the Army and Inter-Service programmes.
In 1949 and again in 1950, the Army won the Inter-Services title and at the end of the 1950 season the Army provided the majority of the Combined Services team that visited Belgium to take part in an International Military Tournament. Sergeant J A Ellis RAOC took both the 220 yards and the 440 yards Freestyle titles at the Army Championships establishing a new record in each. In the same Championships, an Inter-Unit Team Water Polo competition was begun and for which the Otter Swimming Club presented a cup. The first winners were 9 Battalion RAOC who convincingly beat 4 (Armament) Training Battalion REME by 13 goals to nil. That year the Combined Services one mile race was swum for the first time in open water with Air Marshal Sir John Whitworth-Jones GBE KCB presenting a Challenge Cup for the race, the winner being allowed to keep the trophy for a year.
THROUGH THE NATIONAL SERVICE YEARS
The improvement in standards in the sport by the beginning of 1952 was more than obvious and changes to the Army Championships programme were kept in line, quite sensibly, with the higher demands and the abilities of those participating. In 1951, the plunge was discontinued with Colonel Allason’s record still intact after eighteen years! The Inter-Services Championships was itself altered by the division into the sport’s disciplines of swimming, diving and water polo, thereby making up three very separately run competitions. Matches with London Clubs were expanded and the annual contest against the Civil Service put on a firm basis with Army colours awarded to those selected. The strength of the Army team permitted contests being organised with the counties of Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. At this point records had been shattered and only the 100 yards Freestyle record made in 1947 remained intact. In 1952, the UK training unit, 4 Battalion REME from Bordon broke the RAOC Donnington’s strangle hold on the Inter-Unit Relay title and the Water Polo Championships by winning both. Meanwhile, the RAF won all sections of the new style Inter-Services with the Army coming in as runners-up.
At the end of 1952, Major W Atherton RAEC handed over the Hon Secretary- ship to Lieutenant Colonel G E Rex MBE RAOC after steering the Union in this post since 1948. In 1953, now retired, Brigadier G de V Welchman CBE DSO was elected President of the ASA having been nominated by the Western Counties ASA. This is an honour no other serving or former ASU individual has been able to match either before or since.
In 1954, the Enlisted Boys’ participation was expanded to two races, the thirty year-old 100 yards Freestyle remaining with additionally a 4 by 2 length Team Relay. Hence began the first “Junior” Championships. Five young boys’ units took part and the Mackillop Bowl was won by the Army Apprentices School Chepstow. The late Brigadier I H L Mackillop, a former Army champion swimmer and Committee member, had donated the trophy as a bequest in his will.
Notable swimmers and water polo players contributing to Army successes in this period included Sergeant J E Bailey RAOC, Private R Casa Grande RAPC, Lieutenant J F Elliott RAOC, Fusilier D F Snelling Lancashire Fusiliers, Corporal of the Horse T Hudson, Corporal T C Miller and Private A J Temme RAOC. Years after his National Service, Derek Snelling became Canada’s Olympic Coach and on his return to the UK accepted a similar appointment taking the British team to the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. International selection happened to a majority of the others.
In 1955, Warrant Officer T Kennedy APTC attended the first ASA Coaches’ Course at Sheffield, thereby consolidating the bathside work he had been undertaking on behalf of the Army Team. Meanwhile, in the water Corporal J Whitehead RAPC lowered the 220 yards Freestyle record to 2. 21.8. In the mile event Captain J A Ellis RAOC took the title for the third successive year, but he did not improve on his own 1952 record of 22.54.50. During the year Major A C Jackson DSO was made Hon Secretary and separately Western Counties ASA appointed him as their President thereby following Brigadier Welshman (who was the Western President in 1931) to this influential position
At the 1956 Army Championships, Corporal Whitehead broke a nine year old record for the 100 yards Freestyle in the fast time of 54.2 and claimed as well the 220 yards title. International swimmer and water polo player, Second Lieutenant D C Kemp ACC lowered by 3 seconds the 100 yards Butterfly, a stroke only introduced by the World body, FINA, in the very late 1940s. At the same time Sergeant I Goodwin APTC equalled his 100 yards Breaststroke record he had set the year before. In these Championships the mile event was discontinued being replaced again by freestyle’s 880 yards. Another milestone was achieved when the ASU started the home Inter Unit Life Saving Competition. The Combined Swimming Association also finished with the 1mile event and they too replaced it with an 880 yards event. The Whitworth-Jones cup was itself reallocated and awarded to the winners of the Water Polo competition, the RAF, at this point.
The 1957 Championships were dominated by the fine record-breaking successes of Sergeant J Cardwell RAOC. He captured both the 440 yards Freestyle in 5minutes 90 and the longer 880 in 11minutes 70. The Enlisted Boys Event was extended by unit demand to include a short Medley Relay of 3 x 33.3 yards. Here the Mackillop Bowl award was adjusted so that it could be awarded to the team gaining the highest number of points in the two relay events. The Army Apprentices from Chepstow continued their domination of the Junior Championships when their “A” Team won this new event. In the senior level Championships, the diving event had a 3 metres Spring board contest added allowing Private J Crease ACC to win all three titles. The coveted Combined Services annual fixture against the ASA began also in 1957, an occasion that was all the more prestigious as it was televised live by the BBC. This event continued annually at different ASA District venues until October 1962, the last one taking place in Gateshead. Without any shadow of doubt it was the illustrious 1961 meeting when, in Northampton, the Combined Services water polo team saw off the ASA (England) challenge in dramatic form by 7 goals to 4. This resulted in several international selections from the Services being announced.
In 1958 the ASU introduced an Inter Unit Six-man Freestyle relay for those units that did not enter the main competition and it was decided to award the Sir Richard Butler Cup to the winners. With the Cardiff Empire Games just over and some of its participants on the poolside, the contest for the cup proved to be fierce and the entry standard demanding. The first winner of this relay held over two lengths per man in the Woolwich town pool was 7 Training Regiment Royal Signals with the Household Division coming in second and 10 Training Battalion REME third. Great Britain double international, Private H P M Milton RAOC dominated the principal championships. Unsurprisingly in the individual events, he won all the Freestyle races, three out of four in record times. Corporal Crease was again the Army and Inter-Service Diving champion ensuring the Inter Services’ Diving trophy went the Army’s way for the first time, whilst the Water Polo title was shared with the RAF. The following year, 1959, the Army repeated its diving successes with Private R Cann RAMC claiming both titles at both Championships.
Other top contributors during this period were Major J Elliot GM RAOC, Captain P Foakes R Signals, Lieutenant A Morton, Craftsmen M A Lee, J Brownlee and C B Richards, Staff Sergeant J W G McLeod and Corporal D Mathias all of REME, Sergeant D Moss RAEC, Lance Corporal T Lofthouse RAOC and Lieutenant D Hawkes Northamptonshire Regiment.
PART TWO – MORE MODERN TIMES
Dear God, In the Bible’s times did they really talk that fancy?
Jennifer from “Children’s letters to God”.
POST NATIONAL SERVICE TIMES
As the build-up of performances occurred, so did the ASU’s administration. By 1960 the Hon Secretaryship had passed to Major J E W Harris RAMC who very much liked to be involved with pool-side activity and swimming management. The Emergency Committee was reformed and renamed as the Executive Committee, being made up of selected members with close sporting backgrounds at all levels. This was the point where the author joined the Executive and has remained covering a period of the next fifty years! The Army Championships was their first reformed target when it was split into two parts. Now for the first time a Junior Inter Unit Team Swimming Championships came into being with both Diving and Water polo incorporated. The Mackillop Bowl became the principal award, whilst the “Soldier” Magazine presented a fine trophy for the junior unit coming second. In the senior event held quite separately, the 100 yards Breaststroke changed to a 200 yards distance in keeping with the ASA and a One Man Medley, now known as the Individual Medley (IM), was introduced.
The last National Servicemen to swim for the Army were Corporal H Barstow Royal Sussex Regiment, Private J S Wilton Queens Regiment and Private G McQueeney RAMC. The final permitted Commonwealth Army Team member at the Inter Services was Lieutenant D A Hensen from the Rhodesia & Nyasaland Royal Signal Corps. He was part of the Army Water Polo side that beat the Royal Navy by 4 goals to 3. To fill the selection gaps, Junior Soldiers, Army Apprentices (formerly called Enlisted Boys) and Officer Cadets from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) were now to be included. In 1961 Junior Sergeant J Dawe of the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion became the first junior to gain a place in the Army’s Senior Team.
JUNIORS COME INTO THEIR OWN
On the 22nd July 1961, the first Inter Service Junior Championships was staged at the indoor pool in the Royal Air Force Station, Cosford. The RAF took the overall title, the Royal Navy came second with the Army last. Revenge was sweet for in the second year, as the Army hosted the Junior Championships at Oswestry in July 1962, and with Water Polo being included for the first time, the Junior Army team emerged the winners followed by the RAF and then the Royal Navy. HMS Ganges near Ipswich was the chosen venues for the third contest when once more the hosting service won with the Army dropping to second place.
No records fell at the 1962 Senior Championships, which was the last to be held in South East London following the exclusive use of the public pools at both Woolwich and Eltham. What was significant at this time and remains a wonderful memory for those present, was the presence of the Secretary of State for Defence, Labour Member of Parliament Mr Ed Mulley, and majority of the members of the Army Board watching the principal events of the Championships. Using a London venue obviously helped and such a gathering has never occurred subsequently. The following year the Army used the newly built indoor pool at the RMA Sandhurst when Lieutenant M Edwards Parachute Regiment, who had recently transferred to the Army from the RAF (and the RAF swimming side), broke the 220 yards Freestyle record and Junior CSM B Lillywhite of the Junior Leaders Battalion RASC established an Individual Medley best time. Later when man’s service, Lillywhite went on to become a Modern Pentathlon Olympian and completed his links with Army swimming in 2006 as the SO1 Secretariat in the ASCB. As in 1962, the Parachute Regiment dominated the Inter Unit scene with the 2nd Battalion winning the Water Polo title and the 3rd Battalion taking the Swimming Championships’ Cup.
The eleven year monopoly of the Inter Services Swimming Title came to and end in September 1963 when at the RMAS Pool the Army toppled the RAF from that stand. However, the result was extremely close as all three services had equal points and level pegging prior to the last team race! It was the Army home first in the six- man squad relay to be declared winners and to achieve the almost impossible. The Army men also won the Water Polo event, but were only second in the Diving contest to the RAF thereby being denied a clean sweep. During the season new Army records were established by Lieutenant Edwards for the 440 and 880 yard Freestyle and Gunner I Price Royal Artillery broke Mr Kemp’s seven year old record for the 100 yards Butterfly by just a tenth of a second.
At the 1964 Inter Service Junior Championships, the title swung back to the RAF juniors and once more the host service swept up the honours. The Army’s Junior Team were a credible second again with Junior Private G Hill taking the Butterfly title in record time whilst Junior Rifleman R Gray established a new 200 yard Breast- stroke time when winning this event. Both relays were won by the Army team, again in Junior Inter Service record times. Meanwhile, the Senior Inter Services was won by the Royal Navy for the first time post-war, with the Army second and the RAF trailing for once. In spite of a records famine, Corporal C Phillips RAMC managed to repeat his 1963 successes by gaining all three Diving trophies. At the Army Senior Championships, the Inter unit Swimming Trophy was awarded to a boy’s unit for the first time in its history, when the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion from Oswestry gained the most points in this keenly contested event.
From 1965 the Army Team Juniors began their long domination of the junior event and sadly, for very good service reasons, the RAF dropped out of the annual competition leaving the other two Services to maintain the contest. It was 1975 before the Navy once more beat the junior Army.
The Secretariat of the ASU itself witnessed changes as well during this period when it moved its location from the Government Buildings at Stanmore, where it had been since its move from the War Office Building in Whitehall just after the war, to Lansdowne House in London W1, an address that was on the fringes of Mayfair. From there, following a rationalisation of Army sport, it moved for a short while to the Army School of Physical Training, off Queens Avenue in Aldershot, and then to nearby Clayton Barracks, its present home, as part of the Army Sports Control Board Headquarters. Unsurprisingly, Secretaries changed as well. A combination of the sports of Rugby Union and Swimming became almost impossible for one incumbent particularly as both sports extended the boundaries of their seasons. After Major R Walker retired, his place and responsibilities changed too, with Major L Lambert MBE moving across bringing with him Modern Penthaleon, to assume the Assistant Secretary position associated with Swimming. That too clashed and, from a physical training background, Major A Greaves accepted the Swimming role with Army Boxing alongside. This combination has remained, although latterly Canoeing has been added, and has been reasonably successful with many thanks going to those sitting in the “hot seat” since 1966. The last serving Hon Secretary was Lieutenant Colonel A Borthwick-Clarke who, with the author, guided the sport during majority of the turbulent times.
The Annual General Meeting of the ASU held at First Avenue House (a Ministry of Defence occupied building in High Holborn London) in 1969 was a stormy affair when certain proposals to change Army swimming were contentiously denied, as the proposals were heavily out voted by those attending from the floor. As a consequence, the composition of the new Executive Committee was drastically changed. Later calming measures brought things back under control, but all future AGMs have been preceded by an Executive Committee meeting in the morning in order that changes for the General meeting might be fully explained and therefore the 1969 disruptions remain a thing of the past! Although the rules permitted up to five Executive Committee meetings per year, gradually that number has reduced and commonly in today’s era only two are held per year.
In this period, the ASU reorganised its sports officials into a recognisable body. Much of this sterling work was undertaken by Captain F A Dows RE. Examinations were established on a sound and recognisable basis and for those qualifying an Association Officials badge was designed and issued. Coaching too was developed and several ASU members attended National Courses thereby attaining ASA Awards. Their knowledge and experience was then extensively used during the training of unit teams and service representative sides.
During 1966, Junior Corporal M A Gibson improved the ten year old record of Corporal Whitehead for the 100 yards Freestyle and later in 1969, as an adult soldier, Sapper M Gibson RE, reduced the time again to 52.9 seconds. At the Army’s annual match in London against the Otter Swimming Club that year, he set an even better record of 51.3 whilst at the annual Inter Services Whitehead’s old time dropped to 52.4 when in that race Gibson came in third. By 1969, Corporal D A Cherriman Devon and Dorset Regiment had taken the improved senior IM title for three years in succession and was the established record holder with a time of 3 minutes 22.2. The new Army Diving Champion became Corporal D Bellamy RE when he claimed the now reduced event of 3 metres Spring Board and 5 metres Firm Board titles, thus ending Staff Sergeant Phillips’ long run.
Other distinguished Army representatives during this era included Captain B Valentine RAMC, Captain T Woodhouse R Signals, Lieutenant A Lundie The Loyals, Colour Sergeant J Disney Parachute Regiment, Corporal K Pinder REME, Lieutenant C N Williams RA, Warrant Officer A E Montgomery RE, Warrant Officer E Boileau RCT, Sergeant D N Clay, Sergeant A E Harvey, Sergeant P Perriott all of the APTC, Lance Corporal J J Evendon, Sapper P Hahnefield, Sapper R A J Sippe and Sapper W Soper, all Royal Engineers, Corporal A Stewart Royal Scots and Trooper T J Morris 16/5th Lancers.
MOVING IN TIME WITH THE ASA
In 1971, the ASA held their first examinations, both theoretical and practical, for swimming officials and during 1972 the ASU sponsored a foundation course at the Army School of Physical Training (ASPT) of behalf of the Combined Swimming Association. Twenty three Army personnel qualified or requalified during these two years and were allowed to officiate alongside civilian officials who a similarly qualified through their swimming Districts. Several officiated at internationals at the Crystal Palace Pool in London. Initially, the theoretical swimming paper covered all aspects of the swimming sport laws. However, in 1974, the format was changed and separate papers were set to cover timekeeping, judging and starting. Also, it was not necessary to take all papers thereby allowing candidates to qualify in their chosen specialities. During 1980 a referees’ paper was introduced. The ASA set up a National Officials Sub-committee that was responsible for setting and marking the papers and ensuring that the practical exams were correctly conducted by the ASA Districts, including the CSSA. This National body was made up from a representative from each District and a member of the CSSA. The ASU supplied that Services representative from 1974 until 1982 including five years by the author. This status for the Armed Forces remained in place until the year 2000.
In 1976 the Royal Air Force set up a Long Distance Swimming event in Lake Bala at Llyn Tegid North Wales. The ASU decided to decline their invitation believing it was better at that time to concentrate efforts on the Indoor Championships. It was quite some time before the event truly became a focused and recognised Inter Service swim. Captain E Martin APTC was the enthusiastic Army entry organiser and a very regular competitor.
In 1979 Major A D R Critien QDG was appointed the ASU Honorary Officials Secretary and in twelve months had completed the task of updating and recording all those who possessed swimming qualifications. At the 1980 Annual General Meeting of the ASU, it was confirmed that the Army would follow the principles laid down by the ASA for examining its officials. Consequently, during the next four years there were to be many “firsts” such as annual registration and the establishment of a regular sports laws foundation course for those interested in becoming swimming officials. In 1982 Corporal J Harmsworth WRAC became the first woman to qualify as an ASU sponsored ASA Official. By this time Warrant Officer G Lumsden RAOC had taken on the role as Officials Secretary and became responsible for appointments and examinations. He also produced for several years an annual ASU Handbook printed and published by the RAOC from its Corps’ resources.
The ten years of the 1970s, therefore, had been an active time for the ASU Executive Committee as the sport developed in tandem with the progress offered by the ASA. In parallel with the establishment of the officials system, standards in the water began to improve dramatically. One of the best steps forward was the introduction of the Inter Unit Single Event Relay Championships. This had been the vision of Warrant Officer D Cherriman APTC who saw there was a gap in the Inter Unit system, whereby units unable to raise a full team, perhaps because of their size, only had the six man relay to fall back upon. A Sub-committee set up by the then Chairman Brigadier M H Sinnatt CB and steered by Colonel R Mathews, met periodically for some eighteen months and developed a set of regulations and events which would satisfy the needs of the ASU. It is interesting to note that the competition still takes place annually, at the time of the main Championships, largely untouched and still popular.
During 1971, Junior Bombardier M Tripp broke the 100 and 110 yards Butterfly records and added to this accomplishment next season when he achieved the
100 metres record boosts his senior collection. 1972 saw the Army team win the Inter service Water Polo Championship bettering their feat of 1970 when the title had to be shared with the RAF. All three services ended up with equal points in 1974 resulting in a three ways split, a feat rarely seen in this event. Over 1975 to 1977 Trooper D Heron QDG improved the figures first for the 400 metre Freestyle at the Inter services and then added the 200 yards, whilst Second Lieutenant M Mumford RE bettered the times for all IMs and, subsequently, the 200 yards Freestyle. In 1978 the Army Diving squad took the services title for the tenth time in row.
Other prominent Army competitors during the decade included Major C Scotcher REME, Warrant Officer E Martin APTC, Signalman R Steel R Signals, Junior Gunner M Wake, Junior Guardsman A Parsons and Junior Sapper S Hurst.
ONWARD YEARS COVERING THE 1980s
Going into the 1980s showed that the ASU had developed this good foundation with three Swimming coaches, Warrant Officer M A Gibson and Staff Sergeants I McMechan and A Harley all of the APTC, with Diving coaching provided by Sergeant M G Kempson APTC and Water Polo coaches consisting of Warrant Officer E Martin APTC and former APTC Instructor, Mr I Goodwin. Over the years coaching personnel have changed, but these established appointments still exist and all are ex-officio members of the ASU Executive Committee. A system of separated heats and finals for each of the parts making up the Championships were also developed and are still maintained today decided upon when entries are declared to the Secretary. The need for metric measurements arose as the 1980s approached when pools were modernised, but for some while it was essential that two sets of records were maintained, the ASA also acknowledging for a short time the same requirement.
Once more an RAF “convert” to Army swimming achieved prominence, as Corporal P Whiteside REME established a new 800 yards record in a time of 8 minutes 46.1 at the 1980 Inter services. In the same meet, Mr Mumford reduced his 100 yards IM record to 57.8 and Guardsman A Parsons Grenadier Guards took the 100 yards Breaststroke in a new record time of 65.5 seconds. Parsons maintained his record breaking efforts next year when in the Army Championships he took the 200 yards Breaststroke title once more achieving a record. At this stage it is very sad to have to note that Lt Col JWG McLeod REME passed away aged 53 in the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital at Woolwich in June having been taken ill in March after returning from an early morning coaching session in Arborfield. He, over the years since 1949, had done so much for Army swimming, diving and water polo both at representative level down to unit involvement whether it was on the poolside or in the water whilst becoming a valued member of the Executive Committee.
By now the women’s side of the sport started to come into prominence once again and in 1983 they won both Inter services titles, a feat last achieved between 1965 and 1968 (inclusive). Q/Private L Harvey QARANC in RAF St Athan’s pool, won the women’s 100yards Freestyle at the 1983 Inter services in a record time. She had previously (in 1981) established an Inter services record in the Reading Town Pool (used as the Queen’s Avenue military pool had finally closed) for the 4 x 33 metres Individual Medley. Private T Neale WRAC took the IM women’s yards title also at the St Athen’s Inter services Also, it must be recorded that the Army divers maintained a splendid succession of Service diving achievements. Male swimmer Lance Bombardier M Wake RA reduced the thirteen year old 100 yards Butterfly record by 0.3 of a second whilst Captain Mumford and Guardsman Parsons achieved winning places in the Inter service 400 metres IM and 100 metres Breaststroke respectively. During 1984 the women took both titles again, but this was not to be repeated until 1998.
By 1984 both Colonel R Mathews and the author were appointed Life Vice Presidents in recognition of their years of service to Army Swimming. Some thirty six Army ASA qualified officials filled the ranks of the ASU list, most qualified as judges and timekeepers, with seven more having completed the theory stage of the examination. These became the highest number of qualified swimming and water polo officials in the Service before or since. Otherwise, it was a lean year for the Army. This was the summer that the author gained leave to take the Great Britain Olympic Squad to Los Angeles with Corporal R Brew RAF as the British team captain. The Soviet Bloc took no part in the USA Games as a retaliation for the American non-participation in the 1980 Moscow Olympics!
During 1989 the first Inter Corps Swimming and Water Polo event was staged at the Arborfield Garrison Pool. In that year Corps representation was somewhat limited, but after five years interest, spread for this annual autumn meet and the Royal Corps of Signals, REME, the Royal Engineers, the APTC, the Royal Logistics Corps and the Corps of Royal Marines all became involved. The competition has now become a two-day affair with swimming one day and a water polo contest over the next.
PROGRESS SLOW OVER THE NEXT DECADE
The early years of the 1990s continued to be lean from a winning Army perspective although in 1992 the Inter services Diving title once again ended up in Army hands. During the year of 1993, Warrant Officer Kempson, Secretary of Army Diving Officials, ensured that fifteen ASA qualified judges qualified from Army ranks boosting the official’s list far beyond what had been seen before. Meanwhile, former Army swimmer and water polo player, Captain RAJ Sippe RAMC had undertaken the difficult mantle of Army Team Manager, a position he was to retain for some time to come.
The Army Junior Championships were held in May 1992 at Arborfield. The winner in a tight competition, and just one point ahead at the finish, was the Army Apprentice College from Harrogate. However, Chepstow gained revenge for their close swimming defeat by beating Harrogate 6 goals to 5 in the Water Polo event. The Major Unit Team Trophy went to 22 Engineer Regiment who were well ahead of rivals in the June Competition. The only success of the Inter Services Men’s event was the record-breaking swim in the 800 metres Freestyle by Welsh international Sapper S Smith RE when he won the event in a record time of 8 minutes 52.07. Although hopeful of clinching the Women’s title (which sadly in the end went to the RAF), Signalwoman T Wheatley R Signals did achieve all three Breaststroke swims and all in new record times.
A new venture started up in September 1993 with the beginning of the Army Sports Lottery. The aim was set to increase investment in the Army Sports Control Board Trust Fund and establish grants for other sporting activities. This allowed the ASU to consider applying for funding to aid annual tours, to refurbish or purchase permanent trophies and to help with clothing and equipment. This was a major development to what was now possible and over the subsequent years the ASU has managed to take advantage of some new opportunities.
The 1994 Inter services were significant when former Welbeck College student, Officer Cadet S Bassingham in her first year at Sandhurst, established a new 200 metres record at HMS Temeraire in a time of 2.50.11 a significant improvement on the then standing time. Then the following year she repeated her Breaststroke prowess by lowering the Cranwell pool record for the 220 yards Inter service swim to 2.56.37 and the 110 yards to 1.21.83. The women’s Medley Relay team established an Inter services metric record in the Navy’s pool with their winning time of 1 24.23. Whilst still remaining the Inter Service Champions in the Diving discipline, four swimming Army “yards” records were established in 1995. Three were made by Officer Cadets from the RMAS with Mr Leevers taking two, the 100 yards Freestyle in 48.85 and the 66 yards “dash” in 30.84 and Miss S Bassingham the 66 yards Breaststroke event in 44.04 seconds. Signalman Carnegie R Signals won the 66 yards men’s Butterfly in 34.93.
During the next year (1996) once more the divers had an outstanding season benefiting from coaching in the Ponds Forge International Pool, Sheffield from the very experienced Olympic coach, Mr Mike Edge. There was a real battle for the men’s Spring board title when Lance Corporal N Wilson AAC finished just in front of Lieutenant C Munroe RTR with Staff Sergeant A Greenfield a short way behind in third position. The senior High board involved the same three contestants jostling for position, but it was Mr Munroe who became the eventual winner. In the women’s competition Sergeant A Davies WRAC led from both boards with Corporal P Rowan WRAC a close second. At the Inter services, Wilson and Greenfield took top places for the Army whilst the two ladies were second and third, but gaining sufficient points to take the title again.
The Army, with agreement of the other two services, took an unusual course when it hosted in its turn the Inter service event in Navy waters down on the south coast in Portsmouth at HMS Temeraire. This was a decision that would allow maximum usage of the 50 metres pool, currently then under construction in Aldershot, to be made once the facility opened. The most significant swim accomplished was by Officer Cadet C Guillott in the Women’s 100m Butterfly when clocking 1,08.08, a record still standing in 2002. The RMAS team were Inter unit team champions maximising home advantage in the Academy pool. The Army water polo winners were 3rd Regiment RSME. Meanwhile, Life Vice President and former Army swimmer Lieutenant Colonel C Scotcher was “poached” by the ASA when he was appointed to chair the ASA Sub-Committee investigating the tricky and matter of ASA Annual Membership fees, a sensitive problem area they solved.
The origins of a Masters’ Swimming Competition for the Armed Services were formed at the 1992 ASA Southern District, Masters Event held in the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace in South East London. Lieutenant Colonel C Scotcher REME was at that time the Army Swimming Union Deputy Chairman when he met up with two established swimming master’s swimmers from the Royal Navy. Between the three of them, during a competition break, they established the basic ideas for a Combined Service competition. The three were determined as well to hold such an event before the end of that year. Colonel Scotcher agreed to coordinate the event organisation based on his wide ranging contacts. He had to work under the constraints that this event had to be self-sustaining from the revenue generated by the entrance fees.
That competition held between the 9th and 10th October was successful beyond expectations largely due the Royal Navy, having had an established masters group for some time, turning up in strength. The showing from the other two services was good considering the relative short period of notice available. The Friday night events included an 800 metre freestyle for men and a 400 metre freestyle for women. Saturday was packed with the shorter distance freestyle and other stroke races for both sexes. Fortunately, there were many named swimmers from the past including stalwart distance swimmer Major P Foakes late of the Royal Signals. It was also proved a welcome opportunity for colleagues, some not seen for some years, as well as previous opponents to meet socially.
It has to be said that the progress of the competition over the next decade was punctuated by some unfortunate events. Not the least of these was the fact that the new Aldershot Garrison Pool was being developed and constructed and consequently considerable reliance had to be placed on the ageing 25 metre pool in Arborfield and where the event forced to be cancelled twice because of bath difficulties. Even when the new pool was up and running, alternating between short course (25 metres) and long course (50 metres) was only moderately successful due to difficulties experienced in moving the boom.
Running the result service was itself a challenge. No-one should underestimate the difficulties in recording results using a computer with an Excel spreadsheet. This required the officials to sort out the data into age-group categories with relevant places, and then finally totting up the points to establish which service had won the trophy. Over the years the Royal Navy (by sheer force of numbers) triumphed, but there was one exception when the Army sneaked a victory in the Aldershot pool.
On his retirement from the Army Lieutenant Colonel Scotcher continued to run the competition. On the whole, this was satisfactory because he had a number of consistent contacts from the other two services and those in Aldershot continued to help out with the organisation. However, significant changes began to have an impact particularly as contacts began to move changing their appointments. The operational commitments of the Armed Services increased considerably and the slow reduction in numbers coming from retiring swimmers began to have a bearing on the size of the entry. For two years in succession the event had to be cancelled because the entries received were too small to cover the costs of running even a basic competition. In 2005 the Masters move to Yeovilton when the Royal Navy offered to move it into their April annual competition.
Newly appointed ASU Chairman, Colonel J Durance, on getting to grip with the then ageing ASU organisation, developed a new strategic management plan to span the future five years of Army swimming. In it he maximised funding and the associated spending and took into account forecasts for forthcoming years. Not forgotten was an analysis of the Army’s potential, leading eventually to a development plan pointing to the way ahead for the Army team. In the year, immediate success was not achieved. Notwithstanding this, the Women Services drew with their RAF opposition to become joint holders of the service’s title.
NEW INCENTIVES PAY DIVIDENDS
Major RAJ Sippe RAMC continued to manage the Army team believing that the ASU had once more begun to attract higher quality swimmers thereby boosting the Army squads, the women’s in particular. It was noticeable that entries for the Army Championships were a third higher than in 1996 and with Private R Sherringham WRAC pulling out top performances of all entrants achieving, in all, five individual records. These included the 100 and 200 yards Freestyle (in 56.4 and 2.06.45 respectively), 100 yards Butterfly (1.02.07), 100 yards Backstroke (1.03.81) and the 4x33 yards Individual Medley (1.35.28). The Inter services Royal Naval run, brought no surprises the Army winning both Diving contests, coming second in the Water Polo and tying at 97 points each with the RAF in the women’s Swimming championships. Craftsman J Basford REME won the men’s 800 metres Freestyle, whilst for the ladies Trooper R Sherrington AAC gained two records (200 metres Backstroke and Individual Medley), Officer Cadet S Bassingham RMAS one (200 metres Breaststroke) and the Team a Medley Relay a record at 1.23.52.
Again in 1998, the Army Championships were held in the indoor pool at Sandhurst at the beginning of July. As expected Private Sherringham was once more in form achieving seemingly effortless swims in the same events, but this year adding a second place in the 100 yards Breaststroke. What was outstanding was the reduction by 3 seconds in her Individual Medley swim. Headquarters Northern Ireland and their Signals Regiment took the Army Water Polo title quite convincingly. Diving witnessed new champions, with the exception of Staff Sergeant Greenfield who managed to retain the Senior Spring board title. Signalman M Buddle R Signals, became the new men’s High board holder, Private A Prentice RLC was the ladies Spring board winner with Signalwoman L Brown R Signals the women’s Firm board title holder.
The ASA over the years has gradually softened up on prohibitive rules that barred Service Squads from direct entry into ASA National Championship events. Consequently, by December 1998 the Army had a modern day Medley Relay team worthy of entry. Having spent a full time training period in the Arborfield REME Pool under the watchful eye of Mrs Rosa Gallop (Army Swimming Team Coach), five swimmers were considered to be a challenging entry and this proved to be so when they finished qualifiers at the Winter Short Course Swimming Championships. The 4x100 metres Medley team of Major R MacNamee Scots Guards, Private M Gibbons, Guardsman P Gaunt and Guardsman S Mount finished last (8th) in the Final against some of the very top teams in the country.
For Army Secretary, Major “Spud” Leaning, 1999 was a season of events cancelled, events having to be moved at short notice and availability of individuals often questionable. In spite of the huge operational commitment of the Field Army, it can be said that the Army Championships were a success albeit with depleted entries. An Army team under coaches Warrant Officer P Griffiths (Water Polo), Warrant Officer JCW Roberts (Swimming) and Mr M Edge (Diving) saw success in the Women’s event where this year the title was won outright, all diving titles were the Army’s and the water polo saw the team worthy runners-up. The Scottish-Services Willie Mellors Tournament saw newcomers, the British Police, win this water polo tournament easily leaving a Scottish representative side and the Combined Services trailing. The indoor pool at shore based HMS Caledonia in Rossyth remained the venue for this popular tournament that started in the 1970s and remained a serious fixture during the latter part of the life of Scottish Water Polo Convenor, Mr Mellor.
The new Aldershot Military Pool became reality at last when on 11th March 1999 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr John Speller MP, cut the first sod. The completion date was forecast to be July 2000. The project had been in planning for some two years with the ASU being invited to have a sport’s input. The greatest step was the realisation that funds permitted the building of a long course swimming facility which was not so when pencil first went to paper.
Others helping to see the Army achieve success were Warrant Officer G Mitchell, Warrant Officer K Alderton both REME, Sapper S Smith, Lance Corporal S Morgan and Corporal D Hutton all RE, Lieutenant K Unsworth and Lieutenant K Scothorne both from the WRAC.
THE NEW MILLENIUM
As the new millennium became a reality, so did the Aldershot Military 50 metres pool built within the canopy of the Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre (AGSC). This facility was on a new site and only some 800 yards east of the old disused Queen’s Avenue pool. From time to time during the previous two years members of the ASU Executive Committee had visited the construction and were very pleased each time with what they saw. Meanwhile, the Committee concerned themselves with the likes of timing equipment, floating water polo pitches and other essential poolside equipment for the pool. The inclusive building was Land Command’s millennium capital works project and was procured through the joint Ministry of Defence and DETR “Building Down Barriers” construction initiative, the prime contractor being AMEC plc. So on 12th July 2000 and on target, the then Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Geoffrey Hoon MP, officially opened the Centre in front of an invited audience which included national sports writers, local dignitaries and ASA personalities
The RAF College at Cranwell was the venue for the Millennium Inter services and the one where positive targets set up by the ASU Executive Committee seemed to be paying off. Four firsts were declared after some excellent work by the Water Polo team in winning the Sir John Whitworth cup, both Diving trophies and the Women’s Swimming title. Ladies winners included Trooper R Sherrington AAC in two events and Lieutenant V Galloway in one, together with their Medley Relay Team. Lance Corporal S Burke won the men’s 440 yards as the only male winner. One year later (in 2001) the Aldershot new pool (the AGSC) was used for the first time for an Inter service Championships and one where the ASU men gained second place in the first Services long course swimming competition, won the water polo by beating the Royal Navy 6-5 and the RAF 6-4. The Army women’s team were worthy winners in their swimming contest coming a clear ten points over their nearest challengers, the RAF. Diving kept up the pressure and as expected the Army won both the men’s and women’s events. This allowed the Army to be just short again of a “grand slam” with four out of five of the trophies bagged!
It is worthy of note that the Army Championships had to be staged outside Aldershot in 2001, swimming again at the RMAS and water polo in Arborfield. For both events 21 Signals Regiment were the outright winners. The diving held a little later managed to be staged on the boards of the AGSC with Sapper S Walker RE taking the men’s Spring board title, Sergeant D Cox the High board and Corporal A Prentice RLC the winner on both boards for the Women’s title. Once more the Inter services were held at the AGSC and by losing the water polo because the RAF scored a late goal in the final match; the trophy count was one less than 2001! The men’s swimming tally was much improved and the second place was established, the Army being just 6 points behind the Navy. The Army diving winners repeated their previous successes in the Diving event.
THE ASA INFLUENCE BECOMES STRONGER
Currently, the Army Swimming Union is bound by the Laws and Rulings of the ASA. This affiliation was set up in 1927 and has continued hardly touched for the best part of eighty years. It was particularly important because of the application of ASA Swimming Laws which should be unreservedly applied not only at Service Championships, but when Inter-club, County or representative matches were undertaken. In the days of National Service, it allowed the Services a “first claim” over civilian clubs thereby permitting the three services to further the careers of notable swimmers in a protective way. Now in the new millennium, activities have altered a great deal and approaches to sports are very different. Swimming today has a professional element and swimmers are often referred to as “athletes”. In pace with change, the ASA has become considerably larger in structure and much more influential.
The District structure came under focus when it was realised that the Government had devolved sports funding to some nine geographical areas and in order to release appropriate funding from the Sports Council (Sport England) in order to promote national and district events, changes in the ASA make-up were inevitable. At the ASA Council meeting in 2002, a Boundaries’ Commission was set up to study the then District stricture, founded in 1902 and which certainly was not aligned to Sport England’s countrywide spread, and to recommend alterations where necessary. The author was co-opted on to that ASA study group. After a year’s detailed work, this body came up with the proposal that some eight new areas (to be titled “Regions”) should be created. This would solve the problem of accessing funds and ensure that the uneven demographic spread of people that had occurred since the 1900s was resolved. In order to affect the detailed structure and systems proposed, the Boundaries Commission became the Regional Project Board. Following a further year’s study new areas were assessed to be feasible and consequently a detailed paper outlining the “new” ASA was issued. The ASA Council of 2004 accepted the work and changes. A nationwide shadow scheme started which permitted the new Regions in particular a chance to examine problem areas, draw up constitutions and practice on recommended lines for the future. Although at the time this had little affect on the three Services, new links would definitely come into being. An important change was the repeal of the “first claim” law.
After strong support for the Services to continue their separate representation and an entitlement to vote at ASA Council Meetings, in February 2006 backdoor diplomacy was initiated at the request of the ASA Chief Executive. By the ASA Council Meeting of October 2007 the voting status was removed and the affiliation lost much of its value. This was so much so that the Royal Navy Swimming Association severed its links and the RAF came very close. Currently, the ASU has kept on the affiliation. What did come into being was the right to send a representative to ASA Council meetings with permission to speak, but not to vote. Individual members of the affiliated bodies (like the Army) could also compete in masters’ events directly, providing the necessary fee had been paid. This was an important concession as most of the service competitors swim in these age brackets!
After seven years Major R A J Sippe RAMC relinquished the post of Army Team Manager and that year (2000) took up the position of Vice Chairman, a far more active role than it had been in the past. During 2004 he produced an “Aide Memoire”, a successful pamphlet which covered important topics like the Army’s Championship format, a unit swimming officer’s guide, a development plan, basic training schedules and the current travel claim rules. This document remains almost compulsory reading today! The 2006 Inter unit swimming team champions was one of the two participating REME sides, the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering (SEAE), whist the minor unit’s title was awarded to 39 Infantry Brigade Headquarters. Wattisham Station was the Women’s top team. Like the Diving, Water Polo and Individual Swimming, the AGSC pool was used in a long course configuration (for all swimming races).
In that year Army sports scholarships funded by BAE plc were awarded to Corporal N Ferguson RLC and Lance Corporal L Coull AGC for swimming with Sergeant A Prentice RLC and Sapper S Jefferys-Allen RE for diving. During this period the author was elected the first ASA East Region President, then after a long period as the ASU’s representative at ASA Council Meetings (on thirty five occasions from 1969) he decided to stand-down.
In recent times the Army Water Polo side has regained some of its reputation and has found that a serious tournament played during the pre-Inter services training period of great benefit. In 2005 the four-team competition for the “Andy Morton” Shield was started and involved the National League teams of Basingstoke, Invicta and Worthing; Invicta came out top. In the second year Avondale replaced Worthing and became worthy winners in what was their centenary year. In 2007, Worthing took Basingstoke’s place, but it was a strong Avondale still out in front to retain the shield. The Inter services results for that period saw the Army sharing first place with the RAF in 2005, coming second in 2007 and third in 2006.
The year 2006 had the Royal Navy sponsoring the Inter services at the Portsmouth location of HMS Temeraire. The Army kept in line with previous annual performances by winning both Diving titles and the Women’s swimming. Sadly, the Water Polo side dropped to third place but the male swimmers were a creditable second, but still way behind the Navy’s strong performance. Five first places were achieved by the men, whilst the women gained six. Top swim was undoubtedly that of Lance Corporal L Coull AGC who broke the Women’s 100 metres Backstroke record when achieving a near 10 second lead at the finish in a time of 1.07.54 almost 6 seconds better than that made in1996 by Lance Corporal L Mason.
Back at the RAF College pool in 2007, the Royal Navy still commanded the Men’s swimming events and the Air Force the Water Polo. The other parts of the Championships went to the Army. Notable performances in the Diving were once more Sergeant A Prentice RLC who retained her two event titles with Staff Sergeant D Cox taking the men’s High board and Sapper Jefferies-Allen RE the Spring board. Sapper L Gavazzi RE won 100 metres Freestyle with Lieutenant A Cruickshank both the 100 metres and the 200 metres Breaststroke to force up the points for the ladies’ team. Corporal M Ferguson RLC was the Army’s only other winner and that in the Men’s 50 metres Freestyle
August 2007 saw the successful completion of the first ever Inter services Cross Channel Swim Relay Race. It was an Army initiative with Lieutenant Colonel R Healey R Signals the organiser. The event involved four teams with the Army entering A and B sides. This was a real departure from the Lake Bala annual event in terms of open water swimming and it is hoped it might become a regular event, the next planning for 2009. Each service team was made up of six swimmers two of which were female and were swimming under Channel Swimming Association Limited rules and regulations. The relay was from England to France. Winners were the Royal Navy in 11 hours 6 minutes with the Army A side second 36 minutes later.
Finally, 2008 has become a reality and the Army found itself once more with the responsibility of hosting the annual three services’ championships. Although personalities change, there always seems a nucleus around with the experience to organise such events and which fortunately remain as fiercely competitive as ever. The results for the year showed no change from 2007, the excellent long course facilities at Aldershot once more proving their worth. The principal change was the use of three days for the event allowing the Water Polo games to be spread over each day. The Diving contest in turn, was not sandwiched between water polo and swimming gaining its own very definite slot in the programme.
Under the guise of Exercise Channel Titan, July 2008 produced the first Inter Corps Channel relay crossing. Teams from the Royal Engineers, the Royal Corps of Signals, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Logistics Corps, the Adjutant Generals Corps and a composite team calling themselves the Mutineers took part in the event starting from the shores of Samphire Hoe, Dover. The eventual winner arriving at Cap Gris Nez was the RE side in a very creditable time of 10 hours and 59 minutes and closely followed by the Signallers squad some 15 minutes later.
Success came to our divers later in the year when at the Great Britain Winter Masters Championships held in Tunbridge Wells, four first places and a second were achieved in respective age groups. The successful participants were Warrant Officer D Cox APTC, Sergeant J Marke APTC, Lance Corporal R Hunter RW, Craftsman G Lorimer REME and Staff Sergeant A Prentice RLC.
THE FUTUREAs a longstanding Army swimming representative covering a wide spectrum of the sport, I find it very difficult to forecast the future. There is little doubt that women’s water polo is on the near horizon with single service plus inter service competition almost upon us after the trial games played during the 2008 venues. I trust the extended day for the Inter Service event remains allowing the water polo players and the divers a little more freedom. Any tinkering with the swimming events should be minimal and only shadow changes made by the asa (formerly called the ASA) and I hope that it will not be necessary to alter the events from their tried and trusted running order. The only consideration I would give is to slot 50 metre events together thereby saving time for the officials and making the programme simpler to follow for those watching. There is little doubt that the Channel venue will continue periodically for those interested in open water swimming.
It is hoped that readers might find the previous pages of some interest and that the document can be considered of historical interest. Once more apologies are extended to those who have not been named and deserve recognition. However, the document seems long enough!