Members of Amateur Swimming Association
It was decided at a meeting held on 6th March 1878 that the club should become a member of the Amateur Swimming Association.
On 7th September 1878 the 2nd Annual Club Gala was held and on the 12th October 1881, the first ladies gala was held. This was then incorporated into the main gala.
For the first 6 years of the club, the club was only open to Seniors. On 26th June 1882 it was agreed that boys under 16 years could become members and their subscriptions would be 3s 0d. per annum. 2 years later this was changed with the Seniors being charged 3s 0d per annum and boys under 15 years being charged 2s 0d. per annum.
On 19th May 1885 a deputation from the club went to Leigh Baths to discuss an amalgamation, no further developments took place.
1891 saw Tyldesley Swimming Club become one of the first clubs in the country to take up water polo. At this time the nearest club with whom Tyldesley took part in a competitive water polo match was Kendal. During the next few years, opposition was also provided by Manchester Leaf Street, Mayfield, Osborne, St Helens and Leigh.
The game was played in very crude fashion at that time, no proper rules had been formulated, played similar to those that apply in rugby. There were no goal-posts and to score, players had to place the ball down outside the water at the opponents end of the baths, similar to scoring a try on a rugby field.
There were no “hard and fast rules” to get to the opponents end of the baths. If a man had possession of the ball, another could hold him under the water until he released it, but for 2 players to tackle then this was disallowed.
Tactics employed were not gentle, and on the whole, play was rough and tumble – generally “survival of the fittest”. The idea was to get the ball to the opposite end by either “fair means or foul”.
Swimming times were nothing in those days compared to what they are today. A man was considered fast if he could do four lengths in 1 minute and Tyldesley pool was only 16 yards 2 feet long at the time.
There is a story of Adam Pendlebury and Jim Howarth swimming 500 yards and how an official of the club saw them start the race, walked to Atherton (to complete some business) and back and was in time to see them finish the race.
The club started to see success and in 1889 Alf Smith won the Mersey Championship. He was also successful in 1890 and 1892, when he made the trophy his own property.
In 1898 Nathan Potter was the only other club member to win this event.