The concept of a ‘super’ club in Leeds was first mooted before World War II by Richard Ashton of the Leeds Corporation Baths Department, but the idea was slow to reach fruition. It was not until December 1963 that Mr. Ashton’s dream became reality. By this time, he was the Director of Baths in Leeds and presided over the foundation of the Leeds Central Swimming Club.
Prior to the formation of Leeds Central, a limited amount of special training was available to the City’s top swimmers through the Leeds Olympic Training Scheme which met each Friday evening at Cookridge Street Baths. During 1963, the leading competitive clubs of Leeds and District ASA worked towards the formation of a ‘super’ club having decided that if Leeds was to be placed firmly on the swimming map then its swimmers should compete as one club. Various names were suggested for the new club and it was decided that the club should be called Leeds Central Swimming Club.
During the early days of the club, there was a need for it to be ‘sold’ not only within Leeds, but the county of Yorkshire in general and no individual worked harder to do this than the first Honorary Secretary, Mr. Sam Hazelwood, whose name should rank along side that of Richard Ashton as real pioneers of Leeds Central Swimming Club. Full recognition must be given to Leeds Corporation who in these early days of ‘super’ clubs backed Leeds Central by granting a considerable amount of free facilities.
The year 1964 brought a great boost to the newly formed club when Pamela Johnson (Bramley SC) was selected to represent GB in the Tokyo Olympic Games. It was to be a long wait before the club next produced Olympians in the golden year of 1980 when both Kaye Lovatt and Andrew Astbury were selected for the Moscow Olympics.
During the 60s, club headquarters were at Cookridge Street Baths and training took place there and at other small pools around the city such as Holbeck, Hunslet, Union Street and Lawnswood and Roundhay School Pools. The club was age group dominated and had some success in county age group championships, winning the George Lester Trophy in 1965 – 66 and again in 1968 – 69.
In 1967, the club moved its Headquarters to the newly opened Leeds International Pool and had 50m training available on one night per week. In 1972 another milestone was passed when we first began morning training and set up a system of training groups similar to those of present day. Up to that time the club had produced 1 Olympian, 3 full internationals and 2 junior internationals in its 9 year history.
In October 1973, Leeds Corporation began the Leeds Training Scheme directed by ASA National Technical Officer, Derek Stubbs, and in April 1974, the newly formed City Council decided to continue the experimental scheme, taking on Derek as an officer of the city’s Leisure Services Department. He was Director of the Training Scheme with Terry Denison as the scheme Head Coach. The scheme has been invaluable in providing training facilities which are as good as any in Britain. The club and its swimmers have responded accordingly and in the 12 years up to 1985, produced 3 Olympians, 19 senior internationals and 23 junior internationals. The club won the National Swim League Championship in 1980 – 1984. In 1981 and 1985 it received the Henry Benjamin Trophy as Britain’s top senior men’s club and the age group teams won the National Age Group Championships Boy’s Top Team Trophy in 1980 and the Girl’s Top Team Trophy in 1981 and 1982. In 1983, 1984 and 1985 we were National Club Team Champions.