A Brief History of the Club

Belper Swimming Club was founded in 1884/5 by a local school teacher Dan Wilson & Mr A Mosley, the same year the famous Strutt family created a swimming pool known as the Victorian Baths in a stretch of water in the River Derwent at Belper. In 1886 they donated a magnificent solid silver cup called The Strutts Cup for the overall champion of the club this cup is still presented today annually to the senior boys champion.

In 1910 the Strutt family built a new indoor swimming pool known as the Gibfield Lane Baths and the club moved there, changing their name to Belper Mens Swimming Club, the Strutt cup had the original engraving removed and a new configuration of the interior of Gibfield Lane Baths engraved on it.

John Leeson who was a fine swimmer with the club became the freestyle Champion of Derbyshire in 1932 and in that year the club expanded taking part in water polo, life saving and entering competitions until  August 1974 where they moved to the newly built swimming pool on Kilbourne Road which we all know as Belper Leisure Centre.

The new pool was much larger and more expensive to attend and therefore in order to meet these costs the club agreed to accept females into the club for the first time with the name reverted back to Belper Swimming Club.

Age group swimming was now the focus of the club and with all the changes it was felt that a new image and name was needed, with the approval of the ASA in 1977 the Club became known as Belper Marlin Swimming Club.

The first Chief Coach of the new club was Bryn Uphill in 1979 and three young swimmers Helen Watson, Louise Hawking and Rhona Swain went on to become National Champions in their own right.

Several years on in 1985 John Nelson and Jeff Pickering who is now the Club President and has been with the club over 40 years shared the Chief Coach's responsibility until a new Chief Coach took over, this was Roger Maskery. Roger’s son James ( Jim ) was another swimmer who became a national Champion and Derbyshire record holder and swam with Ross Davenport in the relay at the nationals and won a silver medal, he also beat Mark Foster in the 100m freestyle and today is back with the club coaching our swimmers to reach great heights.

In 1991 John Rossington took over as Chief Coach and had many successes, the best known swimmer under John was Ross Davenport who went on to swim in the 2004, 2008 & 2012 Olympic games and also won two gold medals in 2006 Commonwealth games and became Commonwealth Champion, to which the club celebrated by an open top bus tour around the Belper Town centre which is evident on our picture parade at the Belper Leisure Centre.

A new chief Coach was sought following the retirement of John Rossington in 2001 and Mick Howard took over, his first task was to create a learn to swim programme and with subtle changes to this over the years it has become a very successful part of the club. In 2011 it was named the Mini Marlins and with Irene Hallsworth heading it from the start at Heanor, success quickly followed and the club now operates from 3 pools in Amber Valley. It has seen many successes over the years and many swimmers have developed into fine senior swimmers winning many awards, there is nothing better than seeing home grown talent succeed and the club certainly has had its fair share of success.

In 2010 Mike Brett took the reins as Head Coach. Mike who himself is an excellent swimmer has a superb history of representing England at Masters level. He has held World Masters Records, he is a former British Record Holder, swam in the European Championships, in the World Masters, and has held titles at English and Welsh Universities. With this experience he has brought his own style of development to the club and this has paid dividends handsomely as the club has gone from strength to strength. After winning Division 3 North gaining promotion to Division 2 in in his first year, the juniors also had an excellent year finishing 4th in the Nottingham and Derbyshire Junior Swimming League in 2011. After just 2 years in Division 2 Belper Marlin Swimming Club gained 3rd place in the West Midlands League Final to achieve promotion to Division 1 an excellent achievement. After relegation by just one place in 2015, we achieved promotion again in 2016 and achieved our best ever result in the league in 2017 by securing our Division 1 status again for the 2018 season.

The club has now over 300 members  and continues to grow and grow. We have an enviable record of being a friendly and homely club with a very competitive attitude, giving everything as we compete with much bigger clubs and we more than hold our own with them. We have a new website to bring us up to date with the latest ways of communicating with members and friends. We embrace social media with a controlled approach as safeguarding is at the forefront of all we do, and we have created an infrastructure that is designed to develop as the club changes in the future to take on board all the challenges we face. 

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Belper Marlin Swimming Club.

Sophie Axford

Club Chairman

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