Macquarie Shores Swimming Club to hold 20-year reunion at Toronto Diggers on November 3 | photos

THERE have been many elite racers to emerge from Macquarie Shores Swimming Club over the past 20 years, but head coach Ben Jenkinson said the Toronto-based club’s greatest achievement goes beyond any sport result.

“Year after year we’ve had state and national qualifiers at the club, but we’ve taught thousands of kids the life-enhancing skill of how to swim,” Mr Jenkinson said.

“That’s the true legacy of this place. And that’s a wider service to the community.”

The swimming club will celebrate its 20th year with a reunion in Toronto on Friday, November 3, from 6pm.

Former swimmers, their families, and club officials are expected to travel from near and far to attend the function at Toronto Diggers.

One former swimmer who won’t be able to make it, though, is the club’s highest profile racer, Ryan Leonard.

Leonard, 21, has moved to America to take up a swimming scholarship at Northern Michigan University.

The individual medley swimmer has won state medals and competed at the national championships.

“At age 12, Ryan won every event in his age group at the winter state championships, and I think he was the first to ever do that,” Mr Jenkinson said.

“And he’s the first of our swimmers to earn a US scholarship.”

The club’s founding president was the late Bob Milton who, in 1997, was a major shareholder in the private venture that built Toronto Swim Centre.

Lake Macquarie City Council later purchased the pool.

“Bob maintained an interest in the facility and the club right up until his passing in July this year,” Mr Jenkinson said.

Today, the club boasts 21 junior (under-8) and 65 senior (8 and older) swimmers.

Among the club’s swimming instructors are sisters Beth and Heather Sheahan who, as young children, were among the foundation members.

“My mum [Narelle] was part of the group who wanted the pool in Toronto,” Beth said.

“When I finished competitive swimming, I started teaching. I really love my job, and I’ve been here nine years.”

She said it was very satisfying to teach babies how to swim then watch them grow and become competitive swimmers.

The club’s first captain, Amy Matthewson (nee Pitt) now took her children to swim with the club, Mr Jenkinson said.

“The second generations are now coming to learn how to swim which is pretty cool, but it does make you feel old,” he said.

The club asks those who plan to attend the reunion to register their interest by phoning 0408 943024, or emailing macquarieshoresswimclub@gmail.com