IT may not carry the same name as when it was first founded, but the Bendigo Swimming Club’s centenary of history will be celebrated this weekend.
The celebration is a couple of months shy of its official founding date of February 12, 1917, with the club now known as the Bendigo Hawks Aquatic Club.
The milestone will be celebrated this Sunday with a Centenary Swim Meet at the Bendigo Aquatic Centre.
The club holds a special piece of Bendigo sporting history given the Bendigo Swimming Club was home to the city’s only Olympic gold medallist – Faith Leech.
Leech, who first trained with the club at the Municipal Baths before the Bendigo Aquatic Centre was built in 1958, won a gold medal in the 4 x 100m freestyle at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.
The Bendigo Hawks were formed in November, 2011, following a merger between the Bendigo and Eaglehawk swimming clubs, with Bruce Reid the first president, while he was also a former president of the Bendigo club.
As well as Leech, who died in 2013 aged 72, winning gold in 1956, the Bendigo Swimming Club also had four members – Allan Monaghan, Jim Reid, Bruce Carter and Tom Henderson – as technical officials at the Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Allan Monaghan and the Monaghan family is one of the most revered names in Bendigo Swimming Club history, with Allan having spent nearly 50 years as secretary of the club between 1948 and 1995
“You could say Allan Monaghan was the Bendigo Swimming Club there for a long time… he was a lovely man, secretary for nearly 50 years and the swimming club wouldn’t have been going if not for the Monaghan family,” said Jan Spencely, who has had a 40-year involvement with the club.
As part of the celebrations, the volunteer contribution of Spencely to the club will be recognised this weekend, as will the tireless efforts of the humble Wally Stables.
Stables, who has half-a-century of involvement with Eaglehawk and the Bendigo Hawks, will be awarded a ‘50 Years of Service’ honorary shield.
According to current Bendigo Hawks head coach James Sherlock, a former president, the Bendigo Swimming Club was only Australia’s third swimming club to be registered as a competitive club.
The Bendigo Swimming Club also previously had diving and water polo under the one umbrella, with the club’s glory years coming in the 1970s and ’80s when it was the dominant force in the country championships.
This Sunday’s Centenary Swim Meet will feature 59 events, with the first at 9.30am.
The day will include the ‘Dash for Cash’, with $800 in prizes for the eight fastest 50m freestyle swimmers.