Our History - The Full Story

*Taken from the BCSSA History archives. Originally written in 1992.

In August of 1958, three Summer Swim Clubs in British Columbia agreed, with the assistance of the Department of Physical Education of the University of British Columbia, to hold a competitive meet at Empire Pool on the U.B.C. campus. Those swim clubs, Crescent Beach Swim Club, Courtenay Recreation Association, and Empire Pool Swim Club, met in what became the first Annual Provincial Championship Swimming and Diving Meet.

During the initial years of the “Big Meet”, the administration was under the direction of the Department of Physical Education at U.B.C., since the meet assisted in the training of coaches and recreational directors. However, it soon became apparent that the number of divers and swimmers involved was more than could be adequately managed on such a basis, and thus a more permanent organizational structure needed to be formed. The affairs of the Summer Swim Clubs were then handled by a small B.C. Summer Club Committee of the Canadian Amateur Swimming Association (B.C. Section). This was done so, in a rather nebulous manner, in that some clubs affiliated with the Committee itself and other directly with the B.C. Section of C.A.S.A.

Each year the number of participants appearing at U.B.C. for the annual Championship Meet increased to such an extent that the scheduling of preliminary heats became an arduous business. By 1963, the meet was extended from one day to two days of competition to accommodate all competitors. In 1963, there were over a dozen clubs affiliated, in some manner, with the Summer Organization. Nearly 600 registered swimmers and divers participated at Empire Pool in the Annual Meet; this did not include competitors from unaffiliated clubs, who were nonetheless encouraged to compete.

To reduce these problems, in 1964 the Province was divided into 5 regions: Vancouver & District, Lower Fraser Valley, Upper Fraser Valley, the Interior and Vancouver Island. Each region was to hold a Regional Championship Meet prior to the Provincial Championships, in order to qualify its’ three best competitors in each individual event, in addition to its’ top two relay teams. The affiliated Swim Clubs of these Regions were also to elect their own Regional Director who would represent them and be responsible for conducting the Regional Meet. For the Provincial Championships, a Meet Committee was appointed which consisted of a Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. Subsequently, a Registrar was added to the Committee, and this in effect became the Executive of the B.C. Summer Swim Clubs in the 1964 season.

A bit of a crisis occurred in the spring of 1965 as the B.C. Section of C.A.S.A. eliminated the Summer Swim Club Group from its’ organization. Subsequently the ruling was compromised and then rescinded, with the recommendation the Summer Club operations “remain as is for the present”. Maintaining the status-quo, however, was literally impossible as the number of affiliated clubs had quickly reached twenty six (26) and the number of registered competitors had nearly reached eleven hundred (1,090). Hence, the Kootenay Region in eastern B.C. was established at this time.

During the 1965 season, a policy of holding regular Executive Meetings was initiated. A meeting was to take place each Fall (October) and Spring (April), with the first official Executive Meeting occurring in October of 1965. It was agreed that the annual General Meeting would be held at the Championship Meet each August, with each affiliated club entitled to two (2) votes, when registered at the door of the meeting, and with each Executive member entitled to one (1) vote, with no proxies. The Executive Committee membership was increased with the addition of a Vice-Chairman; essentially the Meet Manager for each Provincial Championship. The first B.C.S.S.A. President, and co-founder of the Association, was Mr. Don Brewster of the Crescent Beach Swim Club. His tenure as President began in 1958 and continued until the end of the 1970 season.

Over 1500 competitors and four new Summer Clubs were Associated in 1966 with the British Columbia Summer Swim Club organization, and a seventh region, the Cariboo Region, was established. As a result, a request was made to the Executive that a constitution be developed. These progressive events, as well as other circumstances, made it clear that the relationship between the B.C. Section of C.A.S.A and the Summer Swim Club organization would no longer continue, as it had in the past (although fees continued to be paid to C.A.S.A). This was indeed the case, as the BRITISH COLUMBIA SUMMER SWIMMING ASSOCIATION was incorporated under the Societies Act with the registration of its constitution in 1967, prepared by Mr. Russell Twining, a Vancouver lawyer.

In 1967, a total of 35 Summer Clubs were affiliated and nearly 1800 swimmers were registered, The Lower Fraser Valley Region agreed to take on the responsibility of hosting the Provincial Championship Meet at Empire Pool. The Registrar’s responsibilities were divided between two individuals in order to disperse the ever-increasing work load. At this time, the Registrar’s office was empowered to produce official B.C.S.S.A registration cards; considering the absence of registration through the C.A.S.A – B.C.

In 1968 the number of events in the Championship Meet was increased, with the addition of the 8 & under category in swimming events. Coming to the “Big Meet” at U.B.C. was quite an experience for the young swimmers, as could be witnessed by the astonished look on their faces, upon seeing the vastness of the pool! Fortunately for them, most of their events did not involve swimming the full 50.8 meters of the pool. For those swimmers, a rope was extended across the pool at the 25 meter mark, and their time as recorded when they “hit” the rope, literally. The addition of the 8 & under category and the acceptance of a BCSSA commissioned design meant that the awards system had to be revised. Also in 1968, a grant of $500.00 was made to the Canadian National Swim Team of the Olympics.

In 1969 the first Summer Club Coaches’ Clinic was held at U.B.C. through the office of Mr. Jack Pomfret of the School of Physical Education and Recreation, who was the University’s Swim Team Coach. The B.C.S.S.A affiliated with the B.C. Sports Federation as a governing body, and a request for a fee increase made by C.A.S.A – B.C. was rejected. Subsequently, a resolution was passed at the Annual General Meeting, to retain all fees within the B.C.S.S.A. The Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association (Dairyland) made their first donation toward the support of the Provincial Championship Meet.

Due to the increased work load with 3,000 swimmers and divers, and with forty three (43) clubs registered, a third Registrar was added. Also in 1969, the Lower Fraser Valley Region was divided into two regions (now known as the Simon Fraser and Fraser South Regions) to make a total of eight (8) regions. This format still exists today, with the Upper Fraser Valley eventually becoming known simply as the Fraser Valley Region. The 13th Annual Provincial Championship Meet (1970), was held over a three day format, for the first time. This point in time also marked the beginning of a B.C.S.S.A Officials Certification Program, with Mr. Dan Sharrers and Mr. Charlie Young as the initial project leaders.

In 1992, the total B.C.S.S.A membership reached 5659, including over 300 coaches. Over 7,000 volunteers (parents, officials, board members) ensure the success of the B.C.S.S.A from year-to-year, and the organization is managed through the Provincial Office by an Executive Director and a part-time Secretary.


The B.C. Summer Swimming Association has offered summer Water Polo for recreational and beginning players since 1982. The summer of 1987 saw over 500 boys and girls throughout British Columbia enjoying the sport. Elite players are encouraged to return to their summer teams as coaches, but are ineligible to play. In 1991 there were 546 Water Polo players within the association.


Synchronized Swimming began in the early 1970s with exhibitions taking place at the Provincial Championship Meet. In 1991 there were a total of 43 synchronized swimmers within the B.C.S.S.A.


Diving has been included in the B.C.S.S.A since 1958 and at one time boasted over 250 divers throughout the province. In 1992, the total number of divers was 121.