By HARRY CLARKE

THE rattle of the old vintage camcorder and the sepia tone footage of professional springboard divers performing for the crowd tells a tale of summer fun and country town community now spanning six decades.

Footage taken of the official opening of Chinchilla’s public swimming pool, on the 13th of October 1962, has surfaced on YouTube as the local swimming club prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

CHINCHILLA SWIMMING POOL OPENING – filmed by Clem (C.C.) Allen

Many things have changed since that time – the sense of fashion, for one.

Sadly, anyone middle aged or older in the video has likely passed on. The children in the video are now grey haired. Some of their grandchildren have probably spent the summer playing in that same swimming pool.

There’s now an enormous, heated, 25m indoor pool in the area beside the main Olympic-size pool. The facility that was once simply called the Chinchilla Swimming Pool has taken on the fancy title of Chinchilla Aquatic and Fitness Centre.

And regrettably, skyrocketing insurance costs and modern society’s ‘wrap the kids in cotton wool’ mentality has meant those awesome diving boards have long been decommissioned, boarded up and deemed out of bounds.

Scenes from Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club meetings, held on Thursday nights for 60 years

But a visit to one of the usual Thursday night swimming club meetings shows that, pleasingly, many of the great elements of the Chinchilla pool remain very much intact, and ever present.

A crowd of energetic children, fuelled up on snacks, lollies and Gatorade from behind the kiosk, gather behind the deep end, laughing and playing as they wait for their races.

Their wiry bodies leap from the blocks and for the next 40-odd seconds their parents cheer them along from down on the concrete poolside or up in the timber grandstand.

As the swimmers touch the wall at the other end, another group of parents with stopwatches in hand are standing on the edge, leaning over to take the kids’ times and record their progress.

Parents and committee members, as always, taking times and recording the kids’ swimming progress

“The kids obviously get a great kick out of it but it’s also the committee,” says Jenny Bunting, patron of the Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club.

“When you get a good committee and you work well together it’s a breeze and we really enjoy ourselves. It’s great.

“We get great support from the town and from sponsors. Whenever we need something you can always guarantee that somebody from the town will step forward and help.”

The Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club will celebrate its 60th anniversary next Saturday, March 26 in the Byrne Room of the Chinchilla Club Hotel, starting at 6pm.

Following the end of season presentation for the kids, there’ll be stories shared and memorabilia on display from throughout the club’s long and proud history.

“Anyone who has been involved in our club over the years is welcome to come along, catch up with old friends and enjoy stories from over the years,” said Chinchilla Sharks president Julieanne Bannister.

“All of the kids, committees and families have kept the club going strongly for such a long period. We’re really proud of the tradition in Chinchilla and it’s great to be able to continue this for years to come.”

Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club president Julieanne Bannister and Jenny Bunting
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3 COMMENTS

  1. What an accurate and happy description of what the pool and Club has provided for our community over the years. Well done for the Committees who have put so much effort into sustaining it.
    Thank you Harry

  2. Thank you Harry for a great write up and accurate to the T. Well done to the committee and parents for keeping a vital club going in Chinchilla.
    Tim Dwyer

  3. Thanks Harry for your great article! Lots of kids have gone through the gates over 60yrs. It’s good that the Club has continued after its shaky start with many kids not being able to swim 55 yards. That’s a long way!! This was the Australian standard for Swimming Pools at that time. The pool was upgraded to Olympic standard of 50m, 10 1/2 inches shorter than the original length. Congratulations to everyone who worked, played, competed and enjoyed their time there!!

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