Ian Smith

Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Thank you to Ian Smith who wrote:

Victoria Baths

"I spent yesterday while it was 'gale force rain' outside going through the EdinPhoto web site again, but found no mention of the 'Vickies'. (Victoria Baths, Leith).  So here are some of my memories of swimming there.

Home and School

"I was born in 1949 and lived at the bottom of Bangor Road.  Then, when I was  around 4-years-old we moved to Easter Drylaw, as the scheme was being built around us.

We were bussed up to Flora Stevenson Primary School for a couple of years, while Drylaw school was being built.

We moved out to Gracemount for a while, then moved back into Henderson Gardens in Leith when I was around 9-years-old, in 1958.

After attending Dr Bell's Primary School, I was the only one out of a class of 35 who went on to Leithie (Leith Academy).  Others went to Bellvue or David Kilpatrick's, aka DK or the Daft Kids !!"

Swimming Lessons

"We moved back into Henderson Gardens, Leith, when I was around 8 years old.  Our local school was Dr Bell's.

When I was 9, my mum and I bumped into a neighbour (Jimmy Rutherford ) who lived up the stair.   My mum asked if he would take me around to the Vickies and teach me how to swim.   So, from then on, every Friday tea-time we went with him to Vickies.

Around same time we were sent into Dr Bells pool once a week. So within a short time I was starting to swim like a fish.

The Pool

Vickies was like the other pools:

-  25 yards long.

8 lanes.

7ft deep at the deep-end.

3ft deep at shallow-end.

-  Cubicles around side of pool.

-  Plunge baths upstairs.

-  Diving boards and a spring board.

-  Carbolic soap in chunks,

-  What seemed like boiling water coming through the shower.

Swimming Clubs

"Jimmy Rutherford suggested I join a club called Young Men's Amateur Swimming Club (YMASC).  I joined that because he had been a member there.

After a year, when I was about 10-years old, I moved over to Leith ASC.  Martin Bendix was the main coach there.  His 'day job' was being the 'hard hat diver' for Leith Docks.  i.e. he wore the heavy brass helmet, rather than SCUBA gear.

After a while it became evident that Leith ASC was promoting the Ladies' section.  By this time I was at Leithie (Leith Academy) and a met a couple of my classmates who were members of 1930 ASC, so I transferred to their clubs.  Names that I remember from our team there :

-  George Smith.

-  Gordon.

-  David.

We were all at the same school, so that meant that our school swim team was 'pre-selected'.

Junior Water Polo

"The club met on Monday and Friday nights.  The main fun was learning then completing at a high level in the Junior Water Polo team. Team members were George Smith, Gordon, David, and two others whose names I've forgotten.

1930 Junior Water Polo Team had David Hay senior and junior.  Both were Scottish caps in their day.Those of us in the Juniors won the East of Scotland Championship for some 6 years.  

David senior was main coach for the rest of us. So we had 1 hour dry-land weights training downstairs in the old club room, then 1 hour swimming training, then about 1 hour water polo training or a competitive match.

At Vickies, the clubs all met on different nights of the week:

-  Mondays:   1930 ASC.

-  Tuesdays:  Leith, Girls' Section.

-  Wednesdays:  Leith, Boys' Section.

-  Thursdays:  YMCA

-  Fridays:      1930 ASC.

After spending 2 nights a week in Vickies, then maybe 1 or 2 matches against other teams, it's no wonder that I was a wee 'skinny malinky'."

Ian Smith, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland:  13+25 November 2015




Ian Smith

Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland

Thank you to Ian Smith for writing again with more of his swimming memories.    Ian wrote:

Leith Amateur Swimming Club

Port of Leith Swimming Competition

"Back in the day, Leith ASC ran the Port of Leith Swimming Competition.  This was an open-water swim of 350 yards, swum off the eastern breakwater of Granton Harbour.

About half way along the breakwater was the changing room for the event, a concrete shelter.

Granton Breakwater  -  8 September 2002

 The swim was held around August.  You entered the water close to the 'beach', scrambling over the rocks into the Forth

Swimmers had a handicap time. So you set off at 10 sec intervals and swam along the outside of the breakwater. You ended with a clamber up the rocks and a vigorous toweling to get your self warmed-up.

Did I mention that the Forth was around 45F?  The event was held on a Friday.  As I was getting changed, I mentioned that I was heading up to Glenogle Baths for their Friday Night Club Session.  Martin Bendix chased me home to keep warm!"

Ian Smith, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland:  29 November 2015


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