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Barnstaple Swimming Club

The Club was set up in 1932 with one of it’s founder members Peter Hill  (Club Patron) still showing an avid interest in the Club’s activities. Over the last 79 years hundreds of local children have been taught to swim and the Club has gone from strength to strength throughout the decades.

Rock Park Swimming Bath

The Club originated in the Rock Park Outdoor Baths and quickly gathered momentum with a membership at one time of almost 500 . The members enjoyed all aspects of the sport from learning to swim, progression into Competition, Water polo, Lifesaving and Diving. Gala evenings in Rock Park were always a highlight in the Club’s calendar whereby competitors and supporters all had fun particularly in competing in or watching the crazy diving. The Club continues to hold its Club Championship Galas whereby all swimmers from the Improver groups upwards are encouraged to participate and to gain experience in competition. The Club has a splendid array of cups and trophies which are presented at the annual Prizegiving/Disco to those swimmers who achieve successes in the championships.

Unfortunately the Outdoor baths were closed – an era ended and the Club moved to the Leisure Centre in 1974 whereby we had access to all year round pool time. There were obviously many adjustments to be made and over time the Club has seen many changes but has always met its aims and objectives which are to teach swimming and related activities. The Club, from day one to the present day, relies on dedicated volunteers (many of whom are qualified teachers) who work tirelessly week after week to encourage each member to reach his/her potential in a chosen activity – Swimming, Water polo or Life Saving.  Currently there are approximately 350 members who participate in the water each week. Over the years the Club had a very successful Diving Section but unfortunately we were forced to stop the diving sessions when the ceiling in the pool area was lowered.  In 2001 at the request of parents/swimmers the Committee appointed a part time professional Head Coach to oversee the swimming sessions throughout the Club, to lead the team of voluntary coaches/teachers, and to introduce a structure which would enhance performances and take the club forward competitively. We are dedicated to and renowned for providing sessions and competition for all ages and abilities.

Thursday is our main Club evening whereby we hire the whole pool with the coaches/teachers/swimmers in each session all working together with enthusiasm  creating a real  “buzz”  and “feel good “ atmosphere.  There is also activity on the balcony and in the foyer whereby Club Officials  (all of whom also give voluntarily of their time)  are present to communicate with Parents and Members, collect fees, update the Club Notice Board, complete CRB forms, hand out relevant information etc.

We are the largest Swimming Club in North Devon and a feeder club to larger Clubs in Devon. We have achieved Club Mark status and accreditation  to the ASA National Swim Programme (Swim 21) for teaching.  All coaches/teachers follow this programme under the guidance of the Club’s Head Coach.


Children start out with the Learn to Swim Programme and can then progress through the club structure into the  SQUADS .  A structure has been set up to encourage swimmers to commit to the training criteria/disciplines for the individual squads:- County Development, Pre-squad, Junior, Competitive Development, Transition and the District National Squad.  Training sessions for the top squads are geared up to put swimmers in peak condition for competitions. To achieve this they have to be dedicated, to follow meticulous training cycles and to train a minimum of five times a week plus early mornings. The Club has enjoyed much success since employing a part time professional coach by reaching the highest competitive level ever in the Club’s history with swimmers having achieved County and Western County  honours also in previous years two swimmers have achieved National Qualifying times.  We aim to continue to achieve both personal and team successes with swimmers from the various squads being encouraged to enhance their skills and reach their potential as they progress through the squad structure competing in the relevant competitions throughout the Club year.  All swimming fixtures, results, swimmers’ times etc are displayed on the Club Notice board and posted on the website.


This section meets on Saturday mornings 9.30-10.30 and is gathering momentum with 15-20 swimmers attending. Members have recently achieved success in County and Regional Competitions.

Water Polo


The Club has a proud history of achievement dating back to the 1940’s which has been emulated through the decades with personal and team successes and some members having progressed to achieve international honours. This section oozes enthusiasm and camaraderie every Thursday evening from 8.00pm-10.00pm.ie. 8.00-9.00pm for the Juniors and Ladies followed at 9.00-10.00pm for the Seniors, over 17’s and over 19’s all being coached and encouraged by a team of dedicated coaches.  The players need to be strong swimmers to become good players and they train hard each week to enhance their stamina, ball skills and team spirit.  Every year for the last 40 years on the Spring Bank Holiday we host a friendly game against Kettering and many of us have forged long term friendships with the players and their families. May it continue for many more years to come!   The U/15, U/17, and U/19 teams have enjoyed much team success in the last few years and continue to do so with many players having been selected to play at County and Regional Level.  Two Junior members this year were selected to train with the England Development Squad.  This year we entered  :- 5 teams into the Devon League, 2 in the Regional League, 1 in the Go-For–It Winter Devon/Cornwall  League plus competed in various tournaments (including the Club’s own Annual Mayoral Trophy tournament) .  Proudly the U/19 team won the  Devon league bringing the trophy to the Club for the first time since 1974. We are also very proud to have a Mini Polo Section which is very keenly supported by many aspiring youngsters and expertly coached 8.00-9.00pm each Thursday in the shallow section.


The Committee aim to keep charges to the members affordable to all families within the Community but we are continually faced with expensive pool hire Charges  (Approx £48.000 paid to Parkwood Leisure last year), ASA registration fees (approx £5000 per year), Teachers Courses, (Level 1 £395), (Level 2 £695), (Level 3 1900), Child Protection Courses(£35 per person –necessary for all volunteers) , Trophy engraving, Travelling to galas  plus many running costs all of which have to be reflected in Annual Membership and Training Fees. We are very grateful to everyone who has sponsored us in the last year eg ;-  Brend Hotels,  Barnstaple Round Table,  Barnstaple Link Rotary, Lions Club,  Trophyman,  Beaver Inn Appledore, The Water Gate,  Parkwood Leisure,  Money Matters (authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority), also for the Grants received from The NDDC (Councillors), The Bridge Trust,  Barnstaple Town Council and The Davey Trust. Without this assistance the Club would not be able to maintain the current level of activity.  The Friends of the Barnstaple Swimming Club have set up fund raising activities and held a satisfactory Fund raising “Bag Packing” event at Tesco in Braunton with more planned in the future.  There is also a 200 Club running which is drawn each month – 50% to the Funds and 50% in prizes. More subscribers needed for this!! The fund raising will be ongoing. The friends used funds raised so far to re -construct the much needed Club Web Site.


The Club’s aspirations for the future are to maintain Club Mark status and Swim 21 accreditation,  as a minimum to maintain the current level of activity , to ensure that we continue to provide activity for all abilities of all ages (above 5 years ),  to provide quality coaching/teaching, to ensure that all members enjoy their participation and to reach their potential in each chosen activity,  to encourage/support the part/time professional coach to achieve his level 3 qualification, to encourage/support all volunteers to enhance their skills by achieving additional qualifications as appropriate, to link up with other clubs to provide a pathway for talented performers (swimmers, water polo players etc.) to progress and aim for National recognition,  to get a successful website up and running also  to progress and improve in all aspects of the club’s activities.  Thank you to everyone involved in giving of their time week after week (swimmers coaches/teachers, poolside helpers and administrators) all helping us to achieve these aspirations and together we will look forward to the future.

We are always looking for volunteers to assist in any aspect of Club activities!!  If anyone is interested in becoming involved as a volunteer or would like to participate in any of the water activities please visit us on a Thursday evening at the Leisure Centre (in the foyer 5.45-8.00pm) whereby you will find members of the Committee who will be only to pleased to talk to you OR click on Contact Us for more details.

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