O&M Online





Throughout history, swimming or water based activities have taken place wherever there’s been  a body of water, river or lake. Swimming in our region would have seen its origins this way.

The Albury Swimming Club, established in 1920 was the focal point for all aquatic events. The Albury  Pool has been at its present site since 1929, and prior to that was in Creek Street.

In those early days, swimming and aquatic activities were a great spectator event. Large crowds would pay to see the racing, novelty events, diving displays, water polo, match racing, demonstration and exhibition swims and even synchronised swimming.

Many world and national athletes travelling by train or car to Melbourne or Sydney stopped off in Albury  for a night and performed for the Albury crowds.

Swimming appeared to have a high profile and media attention.

In the intervening years swimming clubs had started to be established in many surrounding towns. The Albury Swimming Club, and in particular the determination of the late Gordon Dowling, foresaw the need for a Swimming Association to provide organised competition in the area.

The formation of any association necessitates a lot of paper work and letter writing, but to form an association   over state boundaries required two state bodies to come to some agreement on border anomalies. Gordon  Dowling had a real talent for letter writing, prompt replies and use of words. The numerous letters that he wrote  concerning the iniquitous and antiquated state swimming laws, bear testament to his persistence in this matter  and fifty years later, many of these border anomalies still appear.

A letter written by the Secretary of N.S.W. Swimming on 20th October 1947 to Gordon Dowling makes mention  of the fact the question of the formation of a Border Association had risen in 1939-40 and that the complexity of  state rules and the failure to reach any satisfactory agreement with both Queensland and Victoria had resulted in no definite decision being made on Associations across state borders.

N.S.W. because of their geographical position had and will always have problems with border associations and  what is appropriate on the southern border will not necessarily be desired by or appropriate for the northern region and visa versa.

On Friday 7th November 1947, Mr. W. Payne, an exectuve member of NS.W. A.S.A. met with Albury Swimming  Club officials to discuss further the proposal for a Border Swimming Club.

Sunday 9th November, a ‘steering’ committee with representatives from Albury, Yackandandah, Beechworth, Bandiana and Wangaratta met in Albury to formulate terms for a new association. December 7th, 1947 was the date chosen for the next meeting regardless of decisions made by swimming bodies in N.S.W. and Victoria.

On Tuesday 11th November, at an executive meeting in Melbourne, approval was granted to form a new association.

The first meeting of the Ovens and Murray Amateur Swimming Association was held on the 7th December 1947 at the Albury Pool (the name Mid States Amateur Swimming Association had been considered).

As the Albury Club had taken all the initiative in organising the meeting Dr. H.C. Worch (Albury) occupied the chair and delegates from the following clubs were present.

Albury - Dr. H.C. Worch, Mr. G.R. Dowling

Wangaratta - Messrs. S. Smythe and R. Barber

Mulwala - Messrs. A. Foster and H. Ball

Bandiana - Lieut. L. Pollard and E.W. Grant

Yarrawonga - Mr. R. Ross

Yackandandah - Messrs. W. Knowles and H.C. McMasters

Beechworth - Messrs F.C. Hill and R.W. Bennett

Dr. H.C. Worch was to be the Association’s first president, a position he held until his untimely death on September 20th, 1953. Gordon Dowling was the Association’s first secretary for 8 years, then treasurer for 18 years as well as holding positions as referee and registrar. The formation, progress and growth of the O & M Swimming Association was built on the tireless work, efficiency and enthusiasm of Gordon Dowling OAM who died on 4th August, 1997.

Of the seven clubs present at the inaugural meeting, Albury and Wangaratta (Merriwa) are still competitive today, Bandiana and Yackandandah no longer have clubs, Beechworth reformed in recent years and Yarrawonga and Mulwala disbanded and reformed as one club in 1991.

In 1949 there were nine clubs affiliated with the Ovens and Murray Swimming Association.

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"Covering all Clubs within Ovens & Murray District Swimming Association"