Australian Swimming e-Newsletter Article Aug 2005

MEMORIES OF JOHN DEVITT AND A DIVER NAMED PAUL HOGAN
Dave Lyall and Bruce Horlyck
 

SYDNEY’S Granville Pool has a rich history that goes back many decades and has played host to many of Australia’s greatest swimmers.

Parramatta City Council recently completed a $9.5 million refurbishment of the Granville pool complex (pictured left on opening night), creating a wonderful facility for the community of Sydney’s western suburbs and one of the most modern complexes in Australia.

The pGranville Pool Reopeningool upgrade now paves the way for another chapter in Australia’s swimming history and provides the opportunity for the pool to find the next Olympic champion in John Devitt (pictured below at the opening of the refurbished pool) or world record holder in Barry Darke.    

The original Granville swimming pool opened in 1936 and was one of the first Olympic-sized pools built in Sydney.

The original swimming centre included a small children’s pool, 10 metre diving tower and a water slide. A second 50 metre pool was added in 1957, and from 1973 the main pool was heated.

In 1988 the pool was named in honour of local Olympic swimming legend and former President of Swimming Australia, John Devitt who broke 14 world records (four individual and ten team) and won 13 Australian titles (three individual and ten team).

Barry Darke was one of the best age group swimmers in Australia throughout the early 1950s and in one sensational 1650yd swim at the 1951 NSW State championships, Barry broke seven Australian records.

Former Olympian Fanny Durack called it ‘the greatest swim Australia has ever seen.’

Several State, National and international swimming and diving champions have trained and competed at Granville, including Devitt, Darke,  Barrie Kellaway, Dawn Fraser, Julian Carroll and Sue Costin as well as being the favoured venue for a young diver-cum-comedian-cum international film star, named Paul Hogan.Granville Pool Reopening

The focus of the community and family events for generations, the centre has also been the location of major events such as the Australian championship titles and the 1948 Olympic Swimming trials.

The pool has also played host to several aquatics clubs over the years, the first being Granville ASC that was started by the pool’s first manager, Rob Chalmers, when the complex opened in 1936.

Since then Parramatta City ASC, Parramatta City Water Polo Club, Clyde ASC and Granville RSL Youth ASC have all made Granville pool their home.

The Parramatta City Amateur Swimming Club was formed in 1952 by Bruce McDonald (coach), Colin Heckenberg (senior swimmer), Ted Simms (pool manager) and the late Bill Johnston.

Its formation came about as a result of some dissatisfaction with the Granville Amateur Swimming Club which had seen some of its members (including Devitt, Darke and Barrie) leave to join other clubs. The founders were highly motivated and they built a very strong executive around them.

Club spirit was high and before long Parramatta City, with nearly 800 members, was the biggest in NSW.

With such a strong and successful club and the popularity of the pool the Parramatta City carnivals attracted exceptionally good fields in all events.

John Devitt himself was on hand to open the new complex recently, thus completing another page in the colourful and eventful history of Granville Pool.  

 


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