Swimming history preserved in new archives

A new Library and Historical Archive to preserve swimming history for future generations has been officially opened today by Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan.

Curated by the national governing body for swimming, the ASA, the collection holds over 1,000 items of swimming memorabilia, training manuals, books and records dating from the 19th Century.

The oldest document in the archives marks the establishment in 1869 of the Metropolitan Swimming Association, which later evolved into the ASA.

The collection also includes a number of artefacts and records relating to the 1908 formation in London of swimming world governing body, FINA, and footage from the 1956 Olympic Games.

As well as competitive medals and trophies, the archive documents swimming’s role in the wider social history of England. In particular, the role of women within society, the impact of the two World Wars, and the changing culture of the sport.

The new Library and Historical Archive is situated at SportPark in Loughborough. Local Member of Parliament, the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP opened the new Library and commented:

Swimming and aquatics has a great history is this country and it is wonderful to see such a large and varied collection on display at SportPark.

As well as documenting the competitive successes of the sport, there are wonderful reminders of how people were taught to swim on dry land, and the changing role of women within the sport.

Collections such as these are so important for future generations to celebrate the achievements of our athletes, and showcase the great work of our sporting national governing bodies.

ASA interim Chief Executive, Jane Nickerson, said:

We are incredibly proud of our Library and Historical Archive, which the National Archives team has described as being of great interest for social and sporting history.

Most of the items in our collection have been donated by individuals and Clubs and we are grateful to all those who continue to help us to grow our archive.

Wendy Coles, volunteer archivist of the collection, said:

It is wonderful to have a permanent display of the collection. I have seen the archive grow over the years and it has been fascinating to catalogue everything.

The historical importance of this collection is vast. Some of the pamphlets about learning to swim are irreplaceable, and we have some wonderful images of a young Queen and Princess Margaret looking over the balcony of the swimming baths where they were taught to swim.

The ASA’s Library and Historical Archive is available to visit. For more information or to make an appointment, people can email operations@swimming.org.

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