The origins of the Bolton Amateur Swimming Club we know today can be traced back 148 years – founded in 1871, the Bibbero Swimming Club was created by the Marquis Bibbero. At this time, swimming for pleasure was very much the reserve of the gentry. These original members did not enjoy the heated pools of today – they practised their skills by plunging into the icy cold lodges of the town’s mills!
At its inaugural gala in 1872, the Marquis gave an exhibition of “ornamental swimming,” his finale – removing a lifesaving suit whilst in the water. The first prize for a four length race was a 16 carat gold medal. The teaching of swimming and lifesaving became the Club’s central interest, and continued be so through the next few decades, and thus, Bolton Amateur Swimming Club came into being in 1872.
Even back then, the club had its social side. As far back as 1898, the club held its first annual dinner at the Saddle Hotel at a charge of 2/6d. (12.5p). Raising finance for any amateur club has always been problematic. In 1900, the club was forced to sell back its water polo goals to the manufacturer’s in-order to balance the books. Consequently, the club, for obvious reasons, only played away matches for the next season.
Over the years, Bolton has been honoured with various International Matches and Trials. In 1902, an Australian, Mr F.C.V Lane, broke the 150 yards world record at the High Street Baths. Teams from Bermuda, Holland, Sweden and Germany have competed in our town, and Bolton has had a number of swimmers and divers who have gone on to represent Great Britain.
In 1908, the Club joined the newly formed Bolton & District Polo & Squadron League, and began to compete in competitions. In 1922, Bolton swimmers won 114 out of 325 Manchester & District lifesaving awards. Even back then, devotees’ passion for the sport ran high – during a ‘friendly’ match at Harpurhey, fighting broke out during a polo match; both on the pool side and in the water, after which the coach was stoned. This episode led to a two-year suspension.
It was in 1924 that training moved in-doors, when the club took up residence at the new Moss Street Baths in Halliwell and, from an original membership of 30 in 1872, the membership swelled to 537. One of our most famous former club members is Gerard Rowlinson, who swam breaststroke in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
Sadly, during the 1980’s, the club entered a period of decline, which was further compounded when Moss Street Baths was closed. In 1987, the club was revitalised when it moved to the newly built to the Water Place in Bolton town centre, where it continued to be based until its closure in 2002, when the club moved to its current home at the Farnworth pool on Brackley Street.
With the instigation of our present Head Coach, Terry Stott, (who has been associated with club for over 50 years), the club again became a competitive force. The club continues to thrive and it is regaining its place as one of the premier teams in the North West.
The aim of the club is to teach and coach swimming in a safe and friendly environment. We are a competitive club, swimming as a team in several leagues, as well as entering individual club swimmers in local age groups and championship competitions.
We hold competitions within the club that every member can participate in – Swimmers from the age of 9 years of age can swim in the team for Bolton ASC.
We strive to make the journey of competitive swimming enjoyable and healthy, whilst developing lifelong skills and friendships. Teenage members of the club are also encouraged to take coaching and lifeguard qualifications, in order that that they can pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation of swimmers.