A Brief History

The pool opened in 1973. Tony Wright a local councillor and ex Northern Counties swimmer contacted the Castle Point council and together with Pat Carlane, Jill Godsave, Joe Callighan, Carol Blakeney and Jim Muir started the Club.

The club became affiliated to the Essex ASA and participated in Essex League’s, Mini League and numerous friendlies.  The first coach was Molly Read, followed over the years by John Vinales, Eric Henderson, Martin Porter and Dave Day. During the time the Club grew at a rapid rate and its standing not only in the county but nationally.

Our first County Champion was Chris Barnard in 1979, over the next 15 years Runnymede had over 30 county champions and in most years 15/20 swimmers qualified for Nationals. One high point was our Senior Boys team of Chris Lines, Gary Stopford, Paul Cannon and Dave Smith not only won the Southern Counties but was just piped in the final for a National Title.

In Team competitions we were very strong and together with Southend and Killerwhales were highly rated in the country, our major achievement was reaching the National Speedo Final in 19—finishing sixth. Our junior team went one better by winning the National Diddy league Final at Liverpool in 1986, since renamed Junior Speedo league.

Senior swimming was very strong and several of our swimmers Qualified for the National Seniors championships. John Lines won gold in Butterfly and I/M.

In the early years we were fortunate to have a considerable number of parents that wanted to contribute to the club some were involved in the Official aspect and gave up there time to become Qualified officials, ASA teaching courses were arranged so that all our pool side help were trained and qualified and then we had many others who were involved in the Social and fund raising part of the club. All these areas helped to make the club successful.

The first ‘Young Champions Gala’ was held in 1982, this quickly became an important and sort after open gala with entries from all over the country. It became so popular that entries were capped at 1200; past Champions included Mark Foster, Karen Pickering and Sarah Hardcastle.

Apart from a very full home gala program Runnymede participated abroad, Overpelt in Belgium, Heidelberg in Germany, Leiden in Holland and Tenby in Wales. There was an exchange program each Easter with swimmers from the above clubs staying with Runnymede families. They were taken sightseeing to London on the Runnymede Double Decker Red Bus, competed in a Swimming Gala and finished the weekend with a Disco.

In 1998 our 25th Anniversary Reunion Dance was held in Runnymede Hall. There was a tremendous response with over 250 swimmers and parents over the years attending. All proceeds were given to the club.

Terry Belton (Spring 2008)

Some key events since then…

2004 – Olympic star, Nick Gillingham MBE, delivers training session for Runnymede’ swimmers.

2005 – After a ten year gap, RSC travels to Belgium and cames 3rdout of 12 international teams taking part in International Gala, OZV SC, Overpelt, near Antwerp, Belgium. The club took 26 swimmers, and their parents. The team had some fantastic individual performances in their respective age groups with all swimmers producing excellent personal best times and an incredible medal tally of 59 between them, including 21 golds, 23 silvers and 15 bronze medals.

2006 – RSC finishes 14th out of 24 teams in the National Speedo League (for the London area), which was our first year in Division one. The club also starts its Swim 21 accreditation, which is still going today.

2007 – Runnymede Swimming Club is accepted into the Jack Petchey Achievement Gold Award scheme. Runnymede’s first winner of the award for October 2007 is 14-year-old Matthew Winnell, who receives his award from the club’s newly-appointed head coach, Stuart Jago.

Commonwealth Swimmer, Rebecca Cooke, visits RSC to take part in lunchtime training session.

Runnymede finishes 5th in the Essex ASA Age Group Champs. Runnymede swimmers win 20 Championship titles for Gold medals, 16 silver medals, 18 bronze medals, and swim to a total of more than 100 events with top 6 finishes for awards and points.

Cheryl Ellis takes over management of Runnymede’s Swim School.

2008 – RSC introduces its new SwimAbility Squad.  Club secretary Heather Davis and Disability Liaison Officer, Maria Neary, together with swimming coaches, Naomi Pallier and Cheryl Ellis, introduce a special squad which allows swimmers with learning and/or physical disabilities to swim competitively as part of the club.

Commonwealth gold medallist, Adam Whitehead, visits RSC for breast-stroke. During the three-hour visit to Runnymede, Whitehead helps the club’s coaching team, working with the swimmers in all squads including demonstrating stroke techniques in the water.

2009 – Training Camp – Callela, Spain – Coach Steve Winnell takes senior squad swimmers to sunny Spain for a training camp.

This year we had 35 swimmers who achieved the county entry standards and we finished as the 10th top club in the County. We had a record number of Gold Medals this year, winning a grand total of 11 Championship Titles.

2010 – New Head Coach appointed: Steve Winnell

2011 – Our Runnymede swimmers compete in the inaugural British Gas Central Zone Championships in Corby, Northampton.

In addition, Ellie Pirrie competes in the British Championships in Manchester as well as for Ortus Londinium in Luxembourg. 

Five of Runnymede‘s SwimAbility squad qualify for their first disability Nationals gala, the British Learning Disabilities Champs, and travel to Ponds Forge, Sheffield to compete in this prestigious gala which is run under FINA rules. 

A team of 19 swimmers competed in the gala at Overpelt, Belgium. The host club OZV celebrated 25 years running this Gala and we presented them with a plaque and cake to commemorate their anniversary. For the first time, four swimmers from the SwimAbility squad joined the team, helping Runnymede to finish 3rd.

2012 – Runnymede sets up the largest, and ultimately the only, water polo squad for swimmers with disabilities.  Despite its success, three years later it folds as there are no other disability water polo teams to play against.  Just after the Olympics, Runnymede SC affiliates with Special Olympics Essex to provide additional competitions for swimmers with learning disabilities.

2013RSC celebrates its 40thanniversary.

2015 – RSC takes another team to OZV Swimming Club, Overpelt, Belgium.

2016 – Head Coach, Steve Winnell, takes a group of senior and selected junior swimmers to sunny Malta for a training camp.

2017 – Runnymede’s Essex League team finished 3rd overall in second division of the 2017 League.

(Maria Neary – Autumn 2018)


If you can contribute to Runnymede’s history, please email website@runnymedeswimmingclub.com