Commonwealth Games 1970: 'I have a tear in my eye thinking about it'

Joyce Quinn was one of the first to dive into the new Royal Commonwealth Pool as the city prepared for the 1970 Commonwealth Games – and 50 years on the event still moves her to tears.
Princess Anne opens the Commonwealth Pool, with Joyce Laidlaw.Princess Anne opens the Commonwealth Pool, with Joyce Laidlaw.
Princess Anne opens the Commonwealth Pool, with Joyce Laidlaw.

Then just a 12-year-old schoolgirl living in Musselburgh, she said the 50th anniversary had brought back a “wave of nostalgia” with her mum and uncle both timekeepers in the swimming events during the summer.

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A young member of Portobello Amateur Swimming Club, she was asked to swim as part of the pool’s opening ceremony that January as Princess Anne watched on.

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Later, young Joyce, whose swimsuit was tied up at the back as it was too big for her, was presented with a medal by the Princess with the photo of the moment then displayed in the shop window of Jenners as games fever swept the city.

Now 62, Ms Quinn, who lives in Cape Town, South Africa and who was known as Joyce Laidlaw before she was married said: “The anniversary has brought back lots of lovely memories. In fact, I have a tear in my eye thinking about it.

"It was such an honour to be part of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, our city.

"Then, as a young girl, to receive a medal from Princess Anne, was just amazing."

Ms Quinn, who competed with Portobello Swimming Club, said diving into the Commonwealth Pool was something in itself.

She added: "We were used to pools that were 25 yards long and here was a pool that was 50 metres long.

"I can remember the crowds very clearly – it was very packed. I was nervous but it was an incredible experience.”

The Royal Commonwealth Pool cost the then Edinburgh Corporation £1.8m to build, around £29m at today’s values. It is a Grade A listed building given its ‘outstanding design’ which solved many issues, like window glare and temperature loss from the main swimming hall, which are common in modern swimming baths.

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