Anaconda Swimming Club has been
in existence for over 50 years. It began under the name of St. Joseph’s,
a group that was started at the school on Highgate Hill. This was an
after-school Club organised by a Mrs Kim Commins for pupils at the
school who wished to improve their swimming. The group grew and people
from outside the school began to join. At this point it was felt that
the name needed to change in order to reflect the changing membership.
Suggestions were invited from the members at the time and ‘Anaconda’ was
born. Anaconda’s first coach was Jim Dowston, who was responsible for
the move towards a more competitive approach. During this time and for
the next 25 years, Mrs Commins was a driving force in keeping the Club
During the late 1970s and early
1980s Anaconda had some 120 members, including those in the teaching
scheme. It trained national age group champions and national finalists.
One of the swimmers from this era, Bernie Graietl, just missed selection
for the Great Britain Team for the World Championships by 0.14second.
For much of the 1980s and into
the early1990s Anaconda faced a difficult period and was hampered by
closures of four of its training pools and the loss of funding. At one
point the membership fell to about 50 and the Club was faced with a date
by which it would fail to be able to pay its way.
In 1993 Anaconda embarked upon a
restructuring programme, with a leap of faith and a new keen committee;
new teachers were employed, advertising was embraced, and a new
business-like approach was brought into the running of the Club. Over
the next few years the numbers at the Club grew progressively to over
400 and promoted an enthusiasm from swimmers, committee members, coaches
and parents/guardians. By the end of 2002 the Club had three national
age group qualifiers, district and county champions, six nationally
ranked swimmers and one swimmer who ended the year as the fastest 50m
freestyler in the 1988 national age group for girls.
Anaconda had by then expanded to run sessions
at Cally Pool as it headquarters, Ironmonger Row Baths, Golden Lane and
Highbury Grove School and was seeking opportunities for further