Permanent wall exhibition to chart 125 year history of Warrender Swimming Club

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THEY say walls have ears but for Warrender Swimming Club an 18-metre stretch of their headquarters at Thirlestane Road Baths will soon have a historic story to tell.

Saturday (7pm) sees John Comiskey, chief executive of Edinburgh Leisure, officially open a permanent wall exhibition displaying memorabilia and other artefacts charting the club’s existence since being formed 125 years ago.

The display and ceremony will be the culmination of a trawl begun in October 2010 when the club’s most distinguished member, David Wilkie, the 1976 Olympic breaststroke champion, returned to conduct a question and answer session with his one-time coach, Charlie Raeburn.

Those charged with taking the search forward included coach Ian Wright and honorary president Jim Hill, a former Commonwealth Games competitor.

Says Jim: “The real purpose of the Wilkie Night was to encourage members to come forward with memorabilia.

“It proved an immense task sorting through quanties of pictures, news cuttings and old programmes dating back to the beginning of 1885.

“A small working committee felt it must come back to where it all started in 1888 – Warrender Private Baths Company, later to become the most famous name in Scottish swimming.

“From the days of trapezes over the pool, reading and billiard rooms and the Turkish Baths the club still swims in the modernised 25 yard pool at the same centre with the International Elite squad who train around the city pools including the Royal Commonwealth Pool.

“The Warrender Wall will comprise the story of the club with these early grainy sepia photographs and programmes costing a penny up to the present day with our latest top swimmer, Craig Benson, competing for GB at the 2012 Olympics and following on from previous legends Ellen King 1924-28, Jean MacDowell and Jessie McVey (1928), David Wilkie, Alan McClatchey and Gordon Downie (1976).

“As well as support from Edinburgh Leisure the club also gratefully acknowledge financial support from the South Central Neighbourhood Partnership.”

Warrender president Gillian Hepburn says: “We have around 320 swimmers ranging from eight years old up to seniors such as Craig Benson, who was the youngest male swimmer on the GB swim team in London and reached semi-final of the 100m breaststroke.

“Both Craig Benson and Craig McNally were selected to represent GB at the European short course and Scott Quinn broke the British record for the S14 100m Breaststroke at the MD National Championships in the summer.

“We are also delighted Keri-anne Payne, the open water swimmer who was fourth in the Olympics, has joined as she is now living in Edinburgh.”