Jersey Swimming Club
The Jersey Swimming Club was founded on 9 October 1865 by William Anderson after the deaths of two young boys who drowned while bathing at Havre des Pas. The sea was perfectly calm and less than five feet in depth but more than twenty men witnessed it without attempting a rescue. It was suggested that bathers' safety was of paramount importance, and as a consequence it was proposed to form a swimming club. More than 40 people signified their approval.
A meeting was convened at which plans were explained and it was decided to create the Jersey Swimming Club. The initial objects of the club were to improve the safety of bathers, improvement of the bathing places near St Helier and the encouragement of the sport of swimming. They continued in these aims increasing the popularity of swimming in the Island.
Plans for a permanent bathing area were produced in 1874 and again in 1889, when Mr Genge submitted a plan for the construction of a pool within the area of water between Fisherman’s Rock and d’Augergne Rock.
In 1882 Mr Lloyd presented two plans for bathing accommodation which included two pools (for gentlemen and ladies). Both plans were approved but only one pool was ever built.
Havre des Pas Swimming Pool was opened on 22 May 1895, built on a plot of foreshore leased from the Crown. It consisted of a large pool attached to a circular granite tower high above the water mark. The tower contained changing booths and a club room. It was connected to land by a steel and timber bridge which enabled bathers to get ashore at high water.
The Swimming Club enjoyed great popularity, especially in the 1920s and 30s, which resulted in a period of continual improvement to the facilities. 29 new cabins were built on the tower in 1922 and the floor of the tower was concreted over.
When in September 1966 she waded ashore at Dymchurch in Kent after a 20 hour 51 minute breast-stroke swim (without the aid of goggles) across one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the world, an extremely tough 21 miles in a very rarely achieved direct line from Wissant Bay on the French coast, 16-year-old Denize le Pennec, of St Martin, Jersey set several records.
She became the youngest British female to have made the crossing of the English Channel. Her landing point remains the most westerly landfall in the history of Channel swimming.
Denize became the first swimmer from the Channel Islands to complete the crossing. In that same year she also successfully extended her list of aquatic credits to include the initial 18-mile crossing from Jersey to France and in 1969 she became the first to swim the 41-mile course around Jersey. Thanks to her pioneering spirit the Jersey Long-distance Swimming Club now boasts an ever increasing tally of successful swims.
It was the starting point for what has become possibly the most successful open water swimming club in the world. By the end of the 2006 season the club had registered 26 crossings of the English Channel by 21 different swimmers.
Today’s heroes are led by club president Sally Minty-Gravett with four Channel crossings spread over four decades, which places her as the only woman to have managed to extend her Channel career over such an elongated period.
This unique achievement, along with her background of previous swims elsewhere, together with her dedication, support and encouragement to others in the sport, has resulted in Sally being elected as an ‘Honouree’ by the “International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame” located in Fort Lauderdale Florida.
She and her younger brother David are the only brother and sister to have swum the English Channel twice each, along with their individual ‘Round Jersey’ and Jersey to France swims. Richard Flambard also has two Channel swims to his credit, besides four Round Jersey outings, holding the local male records for both.
The local ‘Blue Ribbon’ event, the 41-mile circumnavigation of Jersey, presents a unique record for the Maletroit family, with mum Dilys and both daughters Hannah and Sammy all recording solo swims; besides Sammy’s Channel crossing.
The number of successful swims now totals over 65, with close on 80% of these being solo conquests. A Round Jersey swim is now becoming a natural precursor for many swimmers contemplating a future Channel swim, besides many proven marathon swimmers from around the world, attracted by Jersey’s fresh clean waters.
For twenty-six years the eighteen nautical miles from Jersey to France has lain dormant as a swim. ‘La Manche Two’ - being part of the English Channel the waters between our two sets of coastal shores has long been a quest for local swimmers. This unique Channel swim was reinstated in 2005 with a record time for the crossing by Chris Baglin following a route proving relay.
It will surely become yet another Channel crossing to be ticked off on the personal wish-list of many swimmers. Local club member Alison Horsfall claims the distinction of having swum around all the major islands within the Channel Island group, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark besides her own English Channel swim.
International representative honours have been bestowed upon Sally Minty and Linda Devereux, who have both represented Great Britain in long distance events in both Britain and Europe.