The Heretaunga Swimming Club was formed, or as some believe, re-established in 1919 after the conclusion of WW1. The Club was originally called the Hastings Swimming Club which was founded in 1908 after the completion of the Madison Baths in 1907. With the outbreak of war in 1914 the Club went into recess and when it was reformed five years later the new name of Heretaunga Swimming Club was adopted with a new Committee and Constitution. 


The Madison Baths were built next to Hastings Central School. The pool was literally a hole in the ground, lined with concrete and filled with untreated water from an artesian well. The pool was adorned by a magnificent grandstand carved from native timbers. A part of this grandstand lives on today by way of the 'Heretaunga Trophy' awarded each year at prize giving. 

The Club enjoyed 20 years of growth and success before once again war intervened and the Club went into recess for the second time, although some families did keep the pool operating with learn to swim programs and informal competitions. The Club reformed again in 1945 and quickly picked up where it left off in 1939. Over the years the pool began to deteriorate and although the members attended to the concrete by manually chiselling and plastering to mend disrepair, in 1962 it was decided to build a new pool. 

The majority of the construction of the new pool was undertaken by the members and their families, with the guidance of a contractor. In 1964 a brand new 25 metre pool was opened - one of the first metric pools in New Zealand, complete with new filtration, chlorination and heating systems. The Club then proceeded to enter its halcyon years in the late 1960's and early 1970's under the guidance of top coach Hisashi Inomata. During this time the Club produced many NZ Champions and NZ Age Group Medalists along with our first Commonwealth Games and Olympian Swimmer John Coutts. John went on to win a Bronze medal at the 1974 Commonwealth Games. When Mr Inomata left for Auckland in 1975 a lot of the top swimmers left with him.


After two years in limbo and no permanent coach, Mr Roy Compton, a parent of three, took up the role of coach on a temporary, volunteer basis. Roy soon had a large following of eager young swimmers and by 1978 the Club had over 50 members and was soon back amongst the best in NZ. Roy continued on as coach on a volunteer basis until 1989, when once again the Club went into recess, this time for 10 years. Politics was the reason this time, as the introduction of tomorrow's schools meant the newly appointed Hastings Central School Board of Trustees decided they did not want a Swimming Club operating out of 'their pool'. With no other suitable pool space available the Club for the third time in its history went into recess.


In 1999 a group of families, headed by current Patron, Pat Benson, approached the Hastings District Council with a proposal to form a Trust to take over what was then a run down and underutilised Flaxmere Waterworld. Part of the proposal was that the pool would be brought to life by a strong and vibrant Swimming Club and once again the Heretaunga Swimming Club was reformed.


Not long after a young and exciting coach in Jon Winter was appointed and he soon had a small but talented squad of swimmers taking the province and country by storm under the new racing name of 'Sundevils'. The Club went from strength to strength through the 2000's, attaining number two in NZ, behind North Shore, and produced a large number of national champions and NZ representatives, including current coach William Benson.


Today 'Sundevils' are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated committee, an excellent coaching team, a magnificent group of families involved and most importantly a terrific group of young swimmers having a great time. These swimmers are learning many valuable life skills while participating in a great sport. As we approach our centennial the Club is well placed to enter its second century as strong and as vibrant as ever.



Many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to lend us the following photographs.  We hope you enjoy looking into some of our history.

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