Lawson Amateur Swimming Club celebrates 90 years

They were integral in the building of Lawson Pool and have seen off several attempts to close the pool, and last week members of the Lawson Amateur Swimming Club celebrated its 90th anniversary.

The 60-member club's anniversary on November 4 was marked with a cake at their regular Friday night swimming meet. A day of celebration had been planned, but this was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With members ranging in age from two to mid 60s, club president David Tobin said they embraced all abilities.

"Our ethos is to have a go and have fun. We don't push swimmers to go into squads or go to high level events. We embrace all abilities," he said.

Instead, swimmers are encouraged to better their own swimming times, and improve their swimming style.

There are regular relays and distance swims, and pre-COVID, sausage sizzles by the pool.

When threatened over the years with the closure of Lawson Pool, reduction in pool hours and replacing the children's pools with sprinkler fountains, members of the club rallied, along with others from the community to stop this from happening.

"It's an ongoing struggle," Mr Tobin said.

But he couldn't imagine a Blue Mountains without Lawson Pool. Mr Tobin lived in Lawson for 10 years, and even now that he lives in Blackheath, he still travels to Lawson every day to use the pool during its September to March opening hours.

"I'm part of the furniture at Lawson pool," he said with a laugh.

The club originally swam in a dam on the site of the current pool, which was built in the 1800s to provide water for steam trains on their journey across the Mountains.

After the construction of Wentworth Falls Lake in the early 1900s, the Lawson dam became a recreational reserve known as Snake Gully or Frog Hollow at the time.

Mr Tobin recalls club members reminiscing on the days of swimming in the dam and coming out with leeches attached.

"I'm grateful I didn't have that peril," the 49 year old said.

In the 1960s, the community raised money to help develop the dam site into a 50m Olympic Pool, which is still used by the club today.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being part of the club is mentoring aspiring swimmers to helping them achieve their goals, Mr Tobin said.

He recalls one of their annual two-hour swimathons, and determined young swimmer, Michael Witherow, jumping in a little early so he could swim 200 laps.

Mr Tobin completed 100 laps (5km) and was well and truly ready to get out of the pool.

"I can't begin to imagine the exhaustion after that [to complete 200 laps]," he said.

Lawson Amateur Swimming Club is believed to be one of the oldest clubs in NSW and in its hey day it had more than 100 members.

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