The club is over 100 years old (Founded in 1901)
At the turn of the century when the club was founded there was a strict segregation of sexes and therefore there were actually 2 separate clubs Ladies and Gents. To this effect two separate changing huts were used on the sea front; we think roughly adjacent to were the cinema is located.
All swimming training and lifesaving training was in the sea as there were no other facilities. The club was therefore seasonal in operation. This was marked every year up until the late 90s with our traditional “opening dip” held at the Harbour end of the sea front every first Sunday in June.
Presumably there was very little activity during the war (1914-1918) but no records seem to exist. The 2 clubs (Ladies and Gents) were amalgamated in the 1920s and at this time a hut was provided by the council on Paington sea front for their use. All previous ones would have been removed during the war. At this time and until after WW2 all 3 towns in Torbay (Brixham, Paignton and Torquay) had their own Borough Councils. Torbay as we know it did not exist except as 3 separate authorities however, a ‘Torbay Swimming Society’ formed to represent all the clubs to the different councils.
The Club progressed to using the indoor heated seawater pool at the Marine Spa Torquay, but there was also the outdoor sea water pool at Shoalstone.
Some minutes still exist and are available to view on the history pages.
During WW2 all activities were once more suspended.
After the war club activities were restarted with the return to normal life.
In 1948 the area of Torbay began to benefit from the development of Holiday Camps in all 3 towns, which built their own outdoor pools and it became possible to use these by the local clubs (chiefly in the evenings during Camp meal hours) Pontins at Kings Ash Road, Paignton and Barton Hill, Torquay were used.
The use of the Kings Ash site continued up until about 1977/78.
The main club evening for Paignton was at the Marine Spa; Which became Coral island in the mid 70’s and is now Living Coasts, pool on Friday evenings and this was shared with Totnes who had no facilities other than the river. Torquay and Brixham also used this pool on other evenings.
Devon County events were also held there as well as national events. Some combined activities and competitions were held and sometimes included Newton Abbot who had an outdoor pool at Penn Inn and Dartmouth who swam in the boat float. This was the start of the interclub competitions for which some of the trophies we still swim for today originated.
Realising that something better was needed all 3 Clubs began to turn towards the prospect of building their own pools. There were several “buy a brick” schemes and both Torquay and Brixham decided to go ahead and were ultimately successful.
Brixham Indoor pool; Now Admiral centre, opened in 1974. Swim Torquay Plainmoor community pool opened in 1977.
However, Paignton had been promised to be considered as the resident Club in the new Pool to be built at Clennon Valley so they deferred their decision and awaited completion which finally occurred in 1976. Paignton Club members were very active in assisting Brixham Club with the building of their pool and many went over and devoted their time and labour to help build the pool. This was the same with Totnes with whom we have always had close links which continue to today.
Once Paignton Swimming Club assumed its place as resident Club at Clennon Valley, it very soon increased in membership and status in the county. At its height in the 80’s we had over 650 members the second highest in Devon after Exmouth.
Many of the clubs members were and still are active on County committees the highest point being that Three of Paignton’s Committee members were Devon County President
Mr J. Scott Ormsby 1957
Mrs Betty Tuckett 1972
Mr Harold Allen 1976
and to continue the tradition Derek Wyatt become the fourth one in 2016.
It must not be forgotten that the club had always been in the forefront of Lifesaving and many became active with the Royal Lifesaving Society, qualifying as instructors and Examiners, which were held in high repute. With water space starting to be an issue for all local clubs as competitions altered the decision to form a single larger Lifesaving Club was formed at Clennon Valley in 1982.
For many years a good relationship was evolved with Torbay’s Twin Town of Hameln, and for many years exchange visits took place, engendering many lasting friendships with local families. Again Paignton members formed the bedrock of these committees.
Throughout the years Paignton SC actively supported the ‘British Long Distance Swimming Association’ to stage the annual ‘Torbay Championship’ (Meadfoot to Brixham and back). The club provided rowers and officials who volunteers to assist in lifesaving, timing etc. Today it is almost entirely using canoes rather than boats. Several members qualified as ‘Pilot Life Savers’ in the Association and many have swum the course.
For many years the club had a separate ladies section (with its own sub-committee and treasurer) that held frequent events to raise money such as coffee mornings, whist drives, jumble sales etc. They main activity was the popular Christmas parties and presentations events every new year; when they are consequently still held. And occasionally their donations came to the rescue of low club funds, club championship, or team travelling costs for events.
Waterpolo started on a Sunday evening to try and encourage none competitive swimmers (boys) to stay in the water and be club members. Synchro was not far behind; for what we would now consider to be just as sexist in being for the girls.
The club has always been at the forefront with water polo training and participation in competitive leagues countrywide. In later years a ladies polo section had been formed and now they are rightly include in all games at the lower age group levels.
For some year the ladies swimmers trained and competed in ‘Water Ballet; activities later to become synchro.
For several years, following WW2 at the time when the only operating pools were open air holiday camps pools, an ‘Easter Training Camp’ open to all clubs in the country was held at Barton Hill in Torquay. This course was a week long and was residential using the accommodation and dining facilities at the holiday camp. Western counties organised and run with the Instructors and examiners were drawn from all participating clubs and it was a huge success for many years.
A smaller version was run locally by Brixham club very successfully for many years when the regional one moved up country.
Originally written By Mr Harry Truscott Former club President and long serving member of the club. Typed up and ordered by Laura Schubert 11/3/13. Additional items added by Derek Wyatt.