The Wanganui East Swimming Club
Using the seven characteristics of community life outlined by Beatson, describe and analyze a group you are familiar from reading or first hand experience. In discussing the above I have chosen a sporting group. The group is a Swimming Club however it could be typical of any established sporting or interest group that is working and surviving as a group. The discussion from time to time will not only be limited to the Swimming Club but will also use examples of other Sporting Clubs and Groups in general. It will also demonstrate that if a “template” was laid over each club or group for comparison there would striking equivalencies.
It might be best to begin the discussion with how individuals came to form the Wanganui East Swimming Club and in later years how other individuals joined the club and become part of the group and swimming club community. In the 1920’s a School Swimming Pool was made available to the general public of Wanganui East, a suburb in the City of Wanganui. The pool was to be for public use when the school was not using it. Prior to the development of a unique swimming community the individuals in the suburb already had in common the fact that they all lived in the same suburb.
Some may well have identified with that fact. Once a number of the Wanganui East suburb residents started using the pool a smaller Swimming Community began to develop. The individuals that were using the pool at this point were an aggregate. They may have shared common traits but did not necessarily inter relate as a group. Tyson (1998 2nd edition pp4) gives an example of an example of a number of people in a doctor’s waiting room as an aggregate, the general public using a public swimming pool is certainly another example of an aggregate from which the Wanganui East Swimming Club was to originate from
From the users of the pool, (the aggregate) some saw the need for a swimming club. A more passionate interest in swimming or the need for some better order in the pool or quality swimming time made have been the catalyst, however as at this point a Swimming Community was starting to develop. They were developing their “Primary Relationships” as described by Beatson (176. 204, Book of Readings, Peter Beatson, Defining Features of Community pp56) An extract from the Wanganui East Swimming Club 75th Jubilee Card states:
It was not long before the swimmers in Wanganui East could see the advantages of forming their own swimming club and on the 2 December 1922 a meeting was call for that purpose. A newspaper report of the day noted that “The meeting was an enthusiastic one, over 50 being present. This extract gives us an insight to the emotion and interest of the Primary Relationships that were forming between the inaugural members at the time. Individuals had a desire to form a club, they had a common interest or swimming culture and were keen to get the ball rolling.
It also gives us a clear indication of the size of the early group. Primary Relationships are easily identified in the sporting club arena due to individuals coming together on a voluntary basis looking for rewarding experience. This also can be seen quite clearly with Marist Rugby Clubs that are domiciled in most major cities throughout New Zealand. They all are members of the wider Marist Community (based on the Catholic Faith, another culture), and all have the sport of Rugby in common. Each Easter (another Christian Festival) the Marist Rugby Clubs get together and hold a Rugby competition.
All participants will not know one another but all taking part identify themselves as “Marist” and during the social times of the competition relationships are developed between participants who more than likely have never met before. The affinities they have in common are Marist and Rugby. They are emotionally rewarded by being part of the Marist Rugby Community and by playing a game they enjoy. The relationships developed during the competition are informal and voluntary, mainly being developed during social times. They can also last for the duration of the competition or a lifetime.
Primary relationships developed within Swimming Club Community during its early years and it was not long before the others in the suburb identified those in the Swimming Club as “Swimmers”. To an extent “boundaries” were beginning to be created but they were not a restrictive boundary but more of a marking point, clear frontier, or line in the sand to define the fledgling Swimming Club Community. The Swimming Club required a joining fee. The fee acted as the boundary between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The frontier had been clearly marked.
Once you paid the fee you had partial acceptance to the Swimming Club Community, however, this was not the only hurdle to overcome. Proof of some competent swimming ability or sustained effort to learn to swim or work for the Swimming Club Community also needed to be delivered before acceptance was achieved. Paying the fee was not enough in itself to be part of the group. From the early days of the Swimming Club leadership was required. History of the Swimming Club Community recounts a list of past Presidents, Treasurer’s and Secretaries.
The people who are named on the honors board are the past activists of the Swimming Club Community. Most Swimming Club Community members today will not know what they [past Presidents, Treasurer’s and Secretaries] looked like in the flesh, but Club Members of today may identify with a name of the previous office holders as if they were with us today. Traceable history is important to the Swimming Club Community members as it provides them with a link to the past. In some cases three generations of family members names are etched into history both on the clubs trophies and records.