Ron Marony, left, with Ron Walsh and Neville Hackett.
Ron Marony, left, with Ron Walsh and Neville Hackett.

Dedication keeps service swimming club afloat



THE Grafton District Services Swimming Club, now in its 34th year, is one of the most friendly and enjoyable and yet most competitive sporting clubs around. Competitive because almost all its races are held on a handicap or closest to nominated time basis. This results in race finishes generally being extremely close because the slowest swimmers in any heat or final can match it with the elite. Aims of the club have always been toward fostering swimming with comradeship and making swimmers equal on the starting blocks, regardless of ability or disability. When the club had its beginning in 1972 with an all-male, weekly, summer competition, events were held on Sunday mornings at the Grafton Olympic Pool. However, it was not long before the time slot was changed from Sunday mornings to Tuesday evenings competitions, except for carnival days. Later the club took advantage of the South Grafton heated indoor pool to add a Tuesday evening winter competition. In another bonus a Grafton Services Ladies Swimming Club was formed in the 1983/84 season with Elizabeth Maroney the inaugural president and the two clubs operated separately for a while before uniting to form the one competition around 2000. The men's club had been inaugurated in 1972 and competition started that year in September. Some 18 months later affiliation was completed with the AIF Swimming Association of Australia. Besides club competition members can compete in inter-club, inter-zone and Australian AIF handicap and championship events. The Grafton club will host the zone titles at the Grafton pool this year in November. The club has already had the honour of hosting the National AIF championships of 1995 at the Grafton pool with every visitor and local competitor describing the titles as among the best ever. Back on June 21, 1972, the Grafton District Services Club (GDSC) president Hugh Miller at the urging of two well regarded members, Ron Maroney and Detective Sgt Ron Walsh, chaired a meeting to set things in motion to form the swimming club as a sub-committee. The proposal received full support from the GDSC board and they elected a group as a steering committee to see the swimming club formed and be operative for the 1972/1973 summer season. That steering committee included Ron Maroney as chairman, Ron Walsh as secretary together with John McDonald, Earnest (Pat) McDonald, Bill Tanner, Duncan McLachlan and Ian (Crewie) Hamilton. This committee sought advice and information from already established clubs, formulated a proposed constitution and set September 27, 1972 for the inaugural meeting. Voted in as first president was Ron Maroney with Duncan McLachlan his deputy, Ron Walsh secretary, Jim Thornthwaite treasurer, Alan Edwards club captain and seven other members were elected to the committee. Rules for membership are that a member has to be a minimum 18 years of age and a financial member of the Grafton District Services Club as well as of the services swimming club. Other club presidents over the years since Ron Maroney have been Arthur Cooper, Neville Hackett, Don Tomlinson, Richard Sear, Philip Waghorn, Garry Chapman, Kim Dahl, John Kelleher and Stephen Donnelly. Over the 33 years the club has gone along fulfiling its aims in organising competition for members and visitors, providing after-swim fellowship, travelling to zone and national carnivals, holding annual presentation dinners and encouraging learn-to-swim campaigns. Beside the zone and national championships in Grafton, the club celebrated a 20th year anniversary in the 1990s. In its 33 years the club has installed seven life members. First to be given the honour was Ron Maroney, followed by Ron Walsh, Neville Hackett, Stephen Donnelly, Richard Sear, Doug Ensbey and Garry Chapman. Helping me cover the history of the Grafton District Services Swimming Club have been long-serving members, Neville (Chopper) Hackett



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