(Affiliated to East Region ASA, Herts A.S.A. and L.W.P.L.)

Founded 1901

Club History

1901 - 2008

The Club

Watford Swimming and Water Polo Club was established in 1901 and is now based at Woodside Leisure Centre, Horseshoe Lane, Watford, Hertfordshire, England, WD25 7HH. Originally meeting at the river in the lower part of Watford, near Bushey Arches (Click Here). In 1932 we moved to the Watford Central Baths (Click Here), which at the time was the only municipal covered pool in the county until after the war. Watford council have built two new 25m pools which the club will be using as their base, the first pool opened on 7th June 2008. The Club is affiliated to the "Eastern Region Amateur Swimming Association" and the "Hertfordshire Amateur Swimming Association". There is also a polo club which is affiliated to L.W.P.L, ERASA and the Herts ASA. Watford's colours are Red and Blue.

2001 Centenary Page Here
Past and present members look back.

Archive Page Here

Past Presidents, Chairman, Life, International Competitive Representatives. Main Club Coaches, Club Secretaries and Swimming Baths as at 1/7/2008
Club reformed after W.W.II-in 1945

Past Presidents

1945-1948 W.T.Blenkearn
1949 H.E.Coates
1950 Barty-A.B.Lee
1951 A.R. Lynden
1952 A.J. Cutchee
1953 Jim-S.H.Henley
1954 Fred-F.H.Parsons
1955 Bob-R.G.Daplyn
1956 Bob-R.E.Claxton
1957 Ernie-F.B.Ward
1958 Fred-F.B.White
1959 Digby-D.J.Wakeman
1960 Ron-R.J.Chamberlain
1961 Bas-B.J.Barkway
1962 Ernie-E.W.Biggins




1965 Len Elwell
1966 Colin G.Hunter
1967 John-A,J.H.Heffer
1968 Ken Murray
1969 Neil Chapman
1970 Roger S.Harford
1971 Ralph S.Nesbitt
1972 Ray L.Froud
1973 Anthony-D.A.Gimson
1974 Ernie W.Biggins
1975 Ernie W.Biggins
1976 Roy R.Rogers
1977 Rad G.G.Pursey
1978 Mick Cook
1979 Cordelia Martin-Dye
1980 John Slaughter
1981 Ray Cheater
1982 Yvonne Smith
1983 Mike White
1984 John Sargant
1985 Mervyn Roberts
1986 John Martin-Dye
1987 Drago Dundjerovic
1988 Cindy Binnions
1989 Captain John Smith
1990 Olive Roberts
1991 John Atkins
1992 Brenda Biggins
1993 Allan Lewington
1994 Fred Crew
1995 Chris Weeks
1996 Bill Charge
1997 John Sargant
1998 Carol Rudge
1999 Glynis Rawlins
2000 Lynne Willer
2001 Olive Roberts & John Sargant
2002 Paul Cuthbert
2003 Margaret Forester
2004 Mike Wildey
2005 Shirley Petchey
2006 John Williams
2007 Nigel McMorrin
2008 Paul R.S.Rogers
2009 Su Tysoe
2010 Paul Cuthbert
2011  Attracta Stewart(President Elect)

Vice Presidents

Brenda Cheater Peter Broughton
Pat Daplyn Brian Curtis
Anne (Cottrell) Elvy Les Eley
Gill Fowler David Fielder
Ivy McManus Ron Foskett
Christine E.Lumley Michael Foskett
Eileen Smithers William Price
Pat Stockley Harry Spenler
Mary Williams .
Barbara Sargent .
Dorothy Thornhill Elected Mayor  
Life Member
Roy R.Rogers
Julie Hoyle
Graham Martin-Dye
Council Chairman
(1989 prior the President Chaired)
1990 – 2002 John Sargant
2003 – 2007 John Martin-Dye
2008 -- 2009 Nigel McMorrin
2010 -- Neil Spence
International Club Representatives
Lorna Frampton
Julie Hoyle, Melbourne Olympics, 100m back,6th, 1.14.3, Melbourne 1956
Brian Curtis
Ann Cottrell
100m butterfly-6th,1.09.4-Tokyo 1964,
Silver in the Perth Commonwealth games,

Bronze in the European Championships,
Elaine Gray
Melanie Tearle
Mike Foskett-Freestyle and I.M
Derek Pitts-Breast Stroke
John Beresford,  Captained England’s junior international team
Catriona Irvine
Claire Stockley
Claire Franklin  –  Channel Swimmer
Graham Martin-Dye – Water Polo
Main Club Coaches
Bill Juba Spring 1948 --- 28th November 1956
Roy Holingdale 1956 -1961
Roy Rogers 1961 - 1978
Mike Foskett 1978 -
John Martin-Dye  
Sasha Djerfi 1991-1993
John Martin-Dye &J ohn Sargant 1993 -1997
Lee Portingale July 1997 - July 2001
John Martin-Dye &John Sargant 2001 - 02
Alan Lewington 2002-2003
Terry Davies 2/2003 ---
Paul Jones-Development Squad Coach 2006 ---
Club Secretaries
Jim S.H.Henley 1945-1949 (officiated at 1948 Olympic Games in Wembley-14th Olympiad)
S.J.Simmons 1949 - 1954
Fred (C.F) Zimmerman) 1954 - 1961
John Heffer  1963
Mrs.Hilda Haynes 1964
Eileen Smithers  
Cindy Binnions 1979 - 1985
Olive Roberts 1985 - 2005
Attracta Stewart 11/2005--
Swimming Baths
Watford Bathing Place, Five Arches, Water Fields, used from before 1893, but closed 5/1936
Central Baths (old 33 1/3 yards)--5/1933 – 10/12/2006 (closed& demolished)
Leggatts School/Bill Everett(from23/2/1991) (5 lanes by 25 mtr.)1970’s-18/5/2008, (closed&demolished)
Watford Springs from 10/1990 ---to 22/10/2000(closed) -2001(demolished)
Woodside Leisure Centre Pool/Horseshoe Lane (new 8 lanes by 25 metres)-7/6/2008 –
Central Pool (new 6 lanes by 25 metres) Opened 09/08/2008 10am.
Other Pools Used
Westfield/Victoria School Pool
Rickmansworth School Pool
Haberdashers School Pool
Watford Girls Grammar School Pool

I have just been on the WSC website and would like to add a few memories (as I shall be 70 in September):
My father Stanley Jack Simmons (1909-1998) was the club secretary 1949-1954
My idol at the time when I was a budding backstroker (aged 15-16) was Julie Hoyle, I thought she was stunning!
I later went  on to swim for the county and for the army during my National Service ( I was excused some of the mundane chores in the army which was great) 
I always remember that Brian Curtis used to slap one arm on the water when he swam freestyle which did no agree with Bill Juba's coaching.
My best friend at the time I was in the club was Charles Daplyn, only son of Bob Daplyn. The Daplyns included me in their family holidays in Norfolk on many occasions.
Regards, Martyn Simmons

WSC 75th Anniversary Programme-1901 to 1976

The Watford Observer-Saturday ,May 23rd 1901-Watford Swimming Club-A meeting was held on Thursday evening, at the Wellington Arms,when the above club was formed.It was resolved that the annual subscription be 5s.,with an entrance fee of 2s.6d. Time trials will be swum on Thursday next at 8 p.m., at the Bathing Place.It was decided to join the Amateur Swimming Association and Life Saving Society. Mr.Lyons,who is a medallist of the society, will give instruction to any member. The secretary will be pleased to receive names of those desirous of joining.All communications to be addressed to the Hon.Secretary, W.Kinselle,The Ferns,Wiggenhall-road,Watford.

On Saturday 17th August 1901,the first swimming gala was held with several internationals appearing and the first water polo match was seen in Watford.
"The Bathing Place" was on part of the River Colne near where it passes under the five railway arches and beside the Stephenson Way (A4008) road built in the late 20th Century

Watford Swimming Club 75th Anniversary program PDF

Showers fall at annual gala
July 25th, 1908

Though the sun was shining when the seventh annual gala of the Watford Swimming Club was opened at the Five Arches Bathing-place on Saturday, frequent showers fell during the afternoon, and the final events were decided in a heavy downpour.  In the open handicap the Lutonians had the first man home in Waller, who was on the 13 seconds mark, but Cutchee, of Watford, with 19 seconds, was a strong runner-up, if the term can be used in connection with aquatics.  A graceful exhibition of diving was given by club members, and the comic events, "cock-fighting" on a raft, upsetting a boat, and rescuing the "drowning," rod v man, afforded general amusement.

"As far back as 1870,Watford residents would use the River Colne at the Five Arches Bathing Place at Waterfields, off of the present day Stevenson Way, as a place to gather and swim. Between 1871 and 1906, changing rooms were constructed along the edge of the pool area, providing greater comfort for the men, women and children who used the site. In fact, with the installation of additional changing rooms in 1906,records show more than 70,000 visitors used the pool that year, including  The Watford Amateur Swimming Club. Measuring approximately 100 feet by 40 feet, the pool had been dredged and a layer of gravel used to cover the river bed, providing an outdoor pool sufficient to house its many users. This pool remained open until 1936, when contamination from sewerage convinced even the hardiest swimmer that outdoor bathing had had its day. Three years earlier, in 1933, Watford Corporation Baths in Hampstead Rod had been built, becoming the first public baths in the country to be heated , using electricity,and the first covered bath in Hertfordshire."


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Leggett's/Bill Everett last Training Session

Interview with John Martin-Dye, a double Olympian, looking back 40 years

The founding father of the modern Olympic movement Pierre De Coubertin had a simple philosophy:  "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing is life is not the triumph but the struggle.  The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."
De Coubertin's words are not eared towards the top athletes or coaches, but the sportsmen and sportswomen around the globe who dream of one day making it to the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games.
Like everything else in life, the harder you have to work for something, the more you appreciate it.  Sport is no different,  "I always wanted to be at the Olympics, I wanted to be a champion," and, true to his words, John Martin-Dye was.
Six national championships, a European Silver medal and two Olympic Games appearances were the highlight of a sparkling swimming career, but looking back, Martin-Dye, 64, has no doubt as to what drove him to such heights.  "Analysing it, I always felt that because perhaps I was a weaker boy, I tried to find a sport that I was good at, and then thought,, 'right, I'm going to show everybody'.  I wasn't a runner, or great at football, but I could swim."
"It's an inferiority complex but it's good and that's what makes sport.  You see it all the time.  You fight at it and you do it, and that's the great thing about sport." he added.  That mentality certainly paid off.  By 1960, he had booked his place in the Great British Olympic team for the Rome Games.  Again though, it was this inferiority complex which spurred him on.
"At the Commonwealth Games in trials in 1958 I came last and was really disappointed.  But, that defeat was really a victory in disguise because it spurred me on and there's no doubt that helped me to become a much better swimmer."
However, Martin-Dye - who started swimming at the age of eight at a club in Shepherd's Bush - knew that to compete with the best, he had to totally change the way he looked at the sport.  "Back then, it was all about pure ability, but I think I was one of the first to come along and think that if I trained harder than anyone else, then I could have more success."  This of course, is common practise nowadays but, back the, it was a radical departure.
I started training with weights and swimming every morning and really putting the work in .  Although it was not technically advised, the work paid off."
Going into the Rome Olympic trials, Martin-Dye was generally recognised as one-of-the-top British swimmers, certainly in his specialist event, the 400m freestyle, but, again, on the big stage, perhaps with memories of two years ago echoing around his head, he floundered.  "As the trials grew nearer, I really started working so hard and increased my training levels.  When it came to competition, I was just spent thought.  That's the one big disappointment in my career;  I felt I should have done well, and could have done well in the Games themselves."
Martin-Dye was selected for the 4x200m relay though, and, with the pressure off, he got faster and faster and proved a crucial member of a British team which reached the Final.
The Final itself was one of those great Olympic occasions, and one of Martin-Dye's most cherished moments.  "It was a great day for the tea,.  I will always remember, the pool was this kind of brilliant blue, and the lights danced on the surface.  The stadium was absolutely packed out and the atmosphere was electric."  "It's strange, but if you stand at the edge of a 50 metre pool indoors, it's suddenly this huge daunting object, and I remember just looking down lengthways, thinking about how daunting it looked.  It's one of those memories that always stays with you."
The British team actually surpassed all expectations to finish fourth, breaking the European record in the process.  His performances encouraged selectors to pick him for the European Championships individual 400m after Ian Black dropped out.  This proved the catalyst for his most successful year ever.  "The sport is very different now.  Harder, but different," Martin-Dye reflected.
It took me a little by surprise to discover that in the 1960's, swimming was one of the most popular sports and, crucially, one of the most successfully televised sports.  "There was the national championships in Blackpool every year and that was a very big deal," explained Martin-Dye.  "There were no qualifying times and restrictions, so there were hordes of swimmers, and of course it was a holiday destination so it was a great trip.  But the big thing was that the finals were on Friday and Saturday nights prime-time, on television, live on a Saturday.  But they'd talk about swimming and the sport.  "Now they tape a race and see it later.  When do you ever see it on TV or read about it in the newspapers?"  he added.
It was at the |National Championships in 1961 that Martin-Dye really made a name for himself.  After winning the 400m on the Tuesday, and the 200m in a televised final on the Friday, Martin-Dye completed a remarkable treble by taking the 400m 24 hours later - a an achievement which remains unmatched to this day.  "It had never been done before so there was a fantastic build-up.  On the day though I felt relaxed and controlled, even though it was on the television."   He added a silver in the 4x200 relay at the European Championships in Leipzig the following year but this though, proved to be the high point of his career.
Later that year, at the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, despite high hopes, it "just didn't happen."  One of the reasons, was perhaps the remarkable training conditions top British sportsmen had to endure.  "I think we were backward when it came to training in doing it nationally.  The likes of Holland have always done it properly.  Where we've fallen down is facilities.  The government just haven't ever done enough to build the facilities.  "Training was a nightmare.  One of the problems I found was that you had to train in public baths.  Most of the competitions were in the summer when the baths were busy as well and you didn't have goggles to swim under water.
"You had to weave in and out the other swimmers and couldn't time yourself.  It was a nonsense, but, if you say to yourself 'there's too many in, I'm not going to do it' you get nowhere.  But today, it's far more organised."
"So, when you go abroad to the likes of Perth and see this big beautiful pool it's an incentive to train and we just pushed ourselves too hard and it takes the edge off."  Nevertheless, Martin-Dye was still good enough to secure selection for the 1964 Games in Tokyo.  "I didn't do well but I wasn't really expected to."
"The Olympic Village in Tokyo was an old army barracks.  Everything was laid on and you were really treated well though, very much in the same way as today."
However, on his way back from the far East, the team were treated to a surprise visit:  "The Tokyo team did especially well, so when we got back we were whisked off to a hotel at Heathrow before going to meet the Queen, which was very exciting."
Forty years on from his first Olympic appearance, Martin-Dye is the perfect judge on swimming then, compared to swimming now, not least because his youngest son Graham - now a water polo player in Australia - came very close to making the swimming team for Sydney.  "There's no doubt about it, the sport is much harder now.  They are just so focused.
Dedication is always a good thing though, but that was just becoming to come into play when I started competing.  There's so much more control today.  For example, your diet is strictly controlled, but, back the I'd come home and have a slap-up meal." he added.
"There are still difficulties though, like youngsters in Watford having to travel to Hatfield to train. Despite being born in West London, Martin-Dye moved to Watford 38 years ago and now coaches the successful Watford water polo team.  In fact, he is the only man to have represented Great Britain at both swimming and water polo.
So what does he make of Britain's swimming chances at Athens? "To be honest, I'm Sceptical.  Not because of what I've seen, because I don't follow it that closely, but because of past history, and that tells us we'll struggle."
Struggle though, is what the Olympic Games is all about.  Without the struggle, those rare moments of triumph would not be nearly so sweet.

Club members in 1950 and still Good Friends

Left to right – Front row: Brian Curtis (England), Malcolm Cathery, Roger Harford (President 1970), Julie Smith nee Hoyle (GB), Brenda Biggins nee Gurney (President 1992), Bas Barkway (President 1961).
Back row: Ernie Biggins (President 1962-74-75), Anthony Gimson (President 1973), Colin Dunstone.  Missing from the group is Niel Chapman (President 1969) who was unable to attend due to ill health.

Accompanied by their partners some old members of Watford Swimming Club met up for a re-union and activity weekend at a Multi Sports Hotel in the West country.
First swimming together in the Club from the age of 12 all became regular members of the Club and Hertfordshire County teams. Julie swam for GB in the Melbourne Olympics finishing 6th in the 100 Backstroke and Brian represented England in the 1958 Empire Games. Others went on to achieve honours in Southern Counties and Masters Competitions and served as President of our club. Nov 2008.

The Daplyn Trophy
By Ernie Biggins

We all know of the Daplyn Trophy as an annual county competition but where did it get its name?
The wife of Bob (R.G.) Daplyn, to commemorate her husband and his involvement in swimming, presented the trophy to the county.
Bob was a Past President of the Hertfordshire Swimming Association but more importantly to us, Watford S.C. was his home club. He was President here in 1955 and served as Treasurer of the club for many years. He also played water polo in his earlier days.
Mrs Daplyn also gave the Medal and Chain of Office that our President wears.
The inscription on the reverse reads
"Presented by Mrs.R.G.DAPLYN in memory of R.G.DAPLYN.1946-58"
(the years he was connected with the Club).
In his business life he was a Dental Consultant always seen in a suit with tight waistcoat and tie. Privately he was a real character, a chain smoker. We joked that he never had less than one cigarette in his mouth at a time. As a one would nearly finish he would light the next from it, smoking the two until the first was finished and yes sadly but not surprisingly he died of cancer.
Not many people owned cars in those days but Bob had a big Austin and would cram groups of us into it to take us to galas and polo matches. These journeys were never without incident as Bob was prone to coughing fits, when these happened he would take both hands off the steering wheel to cover his face leaving the car to find it’s own direction. Also when lighting one cigarette from another he would be looking in the car mirror allowing the car to wander – luckily there wasn’t too much traffic around in those days and no accident occurred but the number of stories of near misses were endless.
Next time you swim in the Daplyn Trophy be proud to represent Watford as the competition is honouring a very important past member of our club.