Back in the early 60s, a group of about 12 interested parents and 3 teachers (Clarrie Tilbrook, Jenny Brown and Ian Shortland-Jones) from Tuart Hill Senior High School formed a committee to support a pool being built at the school. They lobbied the local member to look into the feasibility of such a project.
The building of a pool was proposed in a letter dated 25 October 1961. Approval for the pool was confirmed in a letter dated 23 November, 1961.
By March 1962 the plans were well advanced and the P & C Association had to guarantee that the cost of the pool would be offset through fundraising.
The pool opened on 20th December 1962.
The inaugural meeting to form the Swimming Club was held on the evening of Wednesday 20 November 1963.
The name of the club was unanimously passed to be the Tuart Hill High School Amateur Swimming Club. The colours green and grey were settled upon as these were the school colours.
The name was later modified to Tuart Hill Senior High School Amateur Swimming Club and the colour gold was added.
The object of the Club was to “promote and encourage participation in swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and the discipline of life-saving in all forms”.
The first coach was Mr. Shortland-Jones, from 1963-1966. Ian Shortland-Jones was a young, enthusiastic, newly qualified, physical education teacher who also coached gymnastics, basketball, hockey and football at the school. He also played league football for Subiaco Football Club in his spare time. He coached at the club until 1966 when he left to teach at Scotch College where he taught for 32 years until his retirement.
The Club gained momentum rapidly. With both the high school and primary school to draw members from, by February 1964, just three months after the official establishment of the Club, there were 100 members and the club was looking for assistance for the coach.
At the 1964/65 meeting in June, it was moved that Tuart Hill Swimming Club would join the Western Australian Amateur Swimming Association. It was also decided that a constitution would be drawn up and forwarded at a special meeting on 1st July 1964. The inaugural president Mr. Neil “Bluey” Gurner was President for 3 years. The 2nd president was Fred Harrison followed by Mr. Bill Meakins. The Club progressed from one that was performing reasonably to a swim club that was one of the most respected and high quality clubs in the State.
The Club became an A grade club just 5 years after its establishment. The success of the Tuart Hill Senior High School interschool performances mirrored this success. From 1961 where they came last in Division 2, they came first in Division 1 in 1965.
The Club held its internal club championships annually and in 1976 there were 80 competitors.
In 1977/78 the Club won the A Grade pennant and collected 105 medals. The Club had 5 State team members – Shelley Taylor, Elizabeth Burn, Margaret Masolini, Robert Masolini and Alisa Bratton. National age finalists also included Shelley Taylor, Elizabeth Burn, Margaret Masolini, Alisa Bratton and Deirdre Bratton. Shelley Taylor was an Australian Open finalist.
In the following year, the Club won the A grade swimming pennant for the 3rd consecutive year and collected 34 Gold, 31 Silver and 37 Bronze medals as well as 4 Gold, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze relay medals. The Club was in the top 10 Australian swimming clubs.
In 1980, a four club competition between the four top clubs was held including City of Perth, Tuart Hill, Victoria Park-Carlisle and West Coast. Tuart Hill was represented by the likes of Barry Armstrong, Joy Petrides, Alisa Bratton and Linda Velluntini. The aim was to stiffen competition in preparation for the 1981 National Championships.
In the Australian Winter Championships of 1980, the club won 12 Gold, 10 Silver and 7 Bronze medals. At the distance championships the Club won 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze. In the relays the club obtained 4 Gold, 8 Silver and 1 Bronze. Many State and Club records were broken. Joy Petrides was offered a scholarship to the Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Around 1981 when the Club was at its peak, changes were occurring that affected the Club’s prominence as a swimming club.
In 1981 Ric Turner, who had taken over the coaching of many of the top swimmers at Tuart Hill, left with his swimmers to join the newly formed Carine Swim Club.
Also around this time, there was a declining number of student enrolments at Tuart Hill High School and the Department of Education decided to turn the high school into a college for adults, offering a range of tertiary courses. Tuart College also had a strong focus on international student education.
As a result, the membership numbers at the Club declined over the early to mid 1980s, as did their ranking in the higher competition levels. By 1982/83 season, the club had slipped to C Grade.
In the mid to late 1980s, the dedicated committees focused on approaching local schools in the area, resulting in an increase in numbers, however with ongoing disappointing results, by 1987 there were only 35 active members. With ongoing promotions with Servite College and Tuart Hill Primary Schools, the numbers rose to 110 in 1988, but declined to 89 in 1989.
As a result of the change in the Club’s fortunes, the committee decided that the Club would focus on the social aspects and less on the top level competive aspects of swimming.
From the time the High School was converted to a College, there was considerable community concern about maintaining the community facilities of the pool and the gymnasium. The Club approached the College with regular requests to contribute to improvements necessary for its successful operation.
In 1984 the Club installed light towers to allow swimming at night and purchased solar blankets at a cost of over $9000 to the Club. The request to the College to match dollar for dollar was rejected.
In 1987 an article in the Stirling Times outlined proposals for Tuart College to demolish the swimming pool and a slice of the local oval to be used for student accommodation. The Education Department had drawn up schematic design proposals.
The Club had a continuous history of patrons being sitting Members of Parliament and City of Stirling Councillors. Letters were sent to George Strickland (State Liberal member for Innaloo), Peter Anderson and Adam Spagnolo (City of Stirling), Ron Edwards (Labor member of the House of Representatives), Scarboro and Trigg Surf Life Saving Clubs and others, seeking confirmation that the pool was to remain. The outcome was positive and the pool remained.
In the mid 1990s the College was under pressure from the local community and the student body to provide additional parking and accommodation for its considerable student body. Sporting groups using Grenville Reserve were also using the area for parking. There were also considerable ongoing infrastructure costs for the College.
The pool was being underutilised by students and staff with the primary users being Tuart Hill Swimming Club, Servite College and occasional use by other public schools. Closure of the pool and construction of car parking and accommodation was seen to be a resolution of these issues.
Rumours about closure continued and in 1997 the club received an assurance from Colin Barnett, the Minister for Education, that there were no plans to close the pool or alter the arrangements for the Club’s use of the pool.
However, in the late 1990s when the pumps broke down and the estimated replacement cost was $65000, the college was unable to meet the costs and a closure was imminent.
Club members undertook considerable work to raise funding to meet the cost of the repairs. Through their efforts, contributions of $20000 each came from the Swan District Education Office and Perth District Education Office. The Department of Youth Sport and Recreation Community Sport and Recreation Facilities Fund provided a further $20000 and the College was able to contribute the remainder from their existing maintenance budget. The pool closure was averted.
During this time, the Club shared facilities with Mirrabooka Swimming Club at Mirrabooka High School. The Club moved back to Tuart College in 2001.
During the time when numbers were declining, it was difficult for the Club to field a team for championship events and pennant competitions run by W.A.S.A. It was proposed at a committee meeting in late 1986 that Mirrabooka Swimming Club combine with Tuart Hill Swimming Club for competitions under the banner of Stirling Swimming Club. A formal request was sent jointly from both clubs requesting permission for the merger. The proposal was accepted by W.A.S.A. and the two clubs combined as Stirling. The Stirling Club maintained its position in C Grade pennant competition and the annual Swimming WA Club Championships. This continued until the Pennant competition run by Swimming WA ceased in approximately 2010.
The emphasis of Tuart Hill Swimming Club during this time was undertaking swimming in a social, friendly environment. The Club ran squad training and coaching, weekly Club race days over the six month summer season and participated in Swimming WA competitions initially as Stirling, then again as Tuart Hill Swimming Club. Competitive level swimmers were encouraged to compete in the State Age Championships.
The cost to swimmers joining the club remained very reasonable and the numbers of Learn to Swim and Club Members grew slowly due to close association with nearby primary schools – St Kieran’s Catholic Primary School, Tuart Hill Primary School and Mount Hawthorn Primary School. Students from these schools performed well in interschool swim meets and trained for these events at the Club. Many students joined the club as a result. In 2011/12 season, the club had to cap numbers due to space restrictions.
Due to the pool not being heated, the Club started offering winter training at Balga Leisure Centre, then later at Terry Tyzack Aquatic Centre.
During this time, coaches Clark Carlson and Olympian Travis Nederpelt formed a new coaching team and worked on getting the Club competitive again. Their aim was to get Tuart Hill Swimming Club back up to A Division.
Travis coached the State Age and Open group of swimmers (the Comp Squad) aiming to get some State and National swimmers back in the ranks. He also emphasised the importance of becoming respected members of the community. As a result the squad was very closely knit and supportive of each other and great mentors for the younger members of the Club.
Head Coach Clark Carlson headed up the Junior squad, emphasising good technique from an early age, hard work and teamsmanship. Many members of this squad developed into top State Level Juniors and record holders, including Alessio Macri, Andrea and Lucas Fazari and Jamie Lutton, as well as many others.
Year by Year, through their hard work and dedication to the Club, Tuart Hill were promoted up the ranks and in 2017-18, won the B Division Club Premierships and were promoted back into A Division once again.
During 2017, the Committee determined that there was a risk of the pool closing due to a major downturn in enrolments at Tuart College and the possibility that it would be closed and the pool along with it. The Club was also experiencing significant increases in the pool hire costs from the College as they were trying to recoup the full costs of maintaining the pool due to their budgetary constraints. Additionally, our winter pool space at Terry Tyzack could no longer accommodate our growing membership, with up to 30 swimmers occupying each lane, being shared with home club Riverside Swimming Club. This was severely impacting the coaches ability to train their swimmers and get the best results out of them.
At the same time, the City of Stirling was constructing the Scarborough Beach Pool. Thanks to Swimming WA, who notified the Club of the pending Expression of Interest (EOI) to be released from City of Stirling for a home swimming club at Scarborough Pool, the committee held an emergency meeting and voted to respond to the EOI when it was released and that if we were successful, would move home pools to Scarborough.
A sub-committee was formed to respond to the EOI, comprising of the President, Peter Petroff, Vice President Graeme Brown, committee member Kylie Armstrong and coach Travis Nederpelt. After many, many long hours and late nights, they produced a very comprehensive and professional response to the EOI which was submitted before the closing date of 17th November 2017.
Our response was very well received by both the City of Stirling and Swimming WA, and in a closely run race with other clubs, we were requested to give a presentation in mid-December 2017 directly to Swimming WA and the City of Stirling in order to answer direct questions and demonstrate why Tuart Hill Swimming Club deserved to be the new home club at Scarborough Beach Pool. Again, this was very well received by both parties,
In late March, after recently returning to being an A Division Club, it was announced that Tuart Hill Swimming Club would be the new home club at Scarborough Beach Pool. Training commenced for the 2018 Winter Season on Monday April 30th.
Later that year, the State Government announced that it was closing Tuart College at the end of 2018. This decision confirmed the fears that the Committee had held for some time and that our historical home was potentially no longer available for use. The pool was unused and unavailable for the entire 2019 year so the timing of the move to Scarborough Beach Pool ensured the Club could continue to function.
The decision to move to Scarborough Beach Pool was a difficult one for a lot of our members, especially considering the extra travel required for both before and after school training. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to some of our long-term members who could not justify the additional travel time, however the majority of our members moved with us to give it a try. We still have a good number of those members swimming with us today.
The reduced membership didn’t last long however, with many swimmers from the local Scarborough area and from other clubs, very keen to join our program and swim at Scarborough Pool. As at March 2020, the Club membership had grown to over 150.
A new coaching team formed in early 2019 headed by Cameron Hawthorn who was a very well respected high performance coach, previously working as the Head Coach at Breakers Swimming Club as well as numerous clubs in the Eastern States.
Added to the coaching team was Lennard Bremer, who himself was a National level swimmer and immediately fitted into the culture of the Club. Together with Cam, coach Karen Briggs, Sarah Petroff and Madi Lambly, formed one of the best coaching teams in the State, focused on maintaining the fun, community minded culture of the Club whilst providing swimmers with a pathway to States, Nationals and eventually the Olympics.
The Club has continued to grow from strength to strength thanks to the coaching team, a passionate committee and a lot of hard working swimmers. For the first time in many years, the Club sent 2 swimmers to Nationals in 2019 (James Petroff and Eliza Hodder).
In February 2020, the Club came 2nd place in the Club Premierships B Division and are once again an A Grade Club.
In 2020, as a result of the dedication and focus of our coaching team and the strong culture and work ethic of our National squad members, the number of National qualifiers more than doubled from the previous year including Alessio Macri, Sean Wilkie, Daniel Boshart, Eliza Hodder and Jake Smith. Unfortunately the Nationals to be held in Perth was cancelled due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 virus.
The Club has some exciting times ahead, with a healthy membership group and an ever improving relationship with the Swimming Pool management, the City of Stirling and Swimming WA.
The new committee and coaching team are committed to taking the Club back up to the heights they were achieving in the 1960s and 70s while still maintaining a fun and supportive, community minded philosophy.