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A short history of:

The Crescent Beach Swimming Club

Compiled by Jack Berry in 2006 on a suggestion by Stewart Schon.
It is therefore dedicated to Stewart's memory.

A history of the CBSC cannot be just a history of a swim club but has to be that of families banding together with a dedicated purpose in mind for the benefit of their children. To chronicle events which have occurred over the past 85 years of the club's existence, not to mention the many generations of club members who have passed through its imaginary portals, and then to confine everything onto one web page is not possible due to limited space.

According to the records, the first gala to be held at Crescent Beach was in July 1918, when ten interested enthusiasts subscribed $1.00 each which was used to buy a present for every competitor who took part in the gala. The club at that time was known as the Crescent Beach Regatta Association and for many years afterward, the main meet held at the point in late August, was known as The Regatta.

Point in 1918

This picture was taken at the Point in 1918 just about the time the first swim club was being organized. The second house is the Target home on present Target Ave. The site is that of the ocean location of the swim club. From the album of Marie Williams.

The Crescent Amateur Swimming Club was organized in 1921 and the late Mr. Frank Penwill was the first President. Mrs. J.R Gilley acted as first treasurer. A position Mrs. Gilley held continuously until World War II. The Semiahmoo Cup was purchased jointly by the Crescent Beach and White Rock Clubs in 1921 for annual competition between the men's relay teams.

In 1922 the club obtained the services of Mr. Norman Cox as swimming instructor. Subsequent instructors included Chuck Hill (1926) Colin McFayden (during the thirties) and Noel Morrow (during the forties).

In 1924, the late R.C. Kidd offered to donate silver medals to the six youngest children swimming the 25 yard course. These medals have been competed annually ever since. (The Kidd family first camped at Crescent in 1918).

During the year 1925 the club built *three pontoons at a cost of $1,000. The late Mr. George Abernathay was president during this year and it was mainly through his efforts that this improvement was made. The main portion was replaced during 1939 at a cost of $300.00. Also the club purchased the lot on which the tennis court is located. *The reason for three pontoons and not six was: The raft's floatation depended on logs under the deck. When competitions were in full swing, the raft was crowded to the hilt with those participating and those who came to cheer them on. The deck was sometimes awash. So the three pontoons replaced the logs on the seaward side of the tank. This is where the gallery could sit to cheer on their favorite swimmer or diver out of the way of the competitors. See the picture of the tank.

The year 1927 saw the organization of the "Inter Beach Committee" which took care of arranging inter club swimming and diving competitions also providing cups for the winners.

During the thirties the major events of the club's annual programs were the hard fought competitions between the teams of the Crescent Amateur Swimming Club and the White Rock Amateur Swimming Club.

In 1928 the club held the first closed meet which girls competed for the Penwill Cup, in memory of the first president. Miss Kathleen Davidson was the first winner.

CBSC tank 1929

The Tank as it was affectionately called as it appeared in 1929. Local residents knew the summer was upon them when they saw the raft being towed around from its winter storage from behind the GNR bridge to its location tucked in behind the point out of the weather. It was returned after Labor Day. The club's dinghy is in the foreground.

Wiles family

The Wiles family with their many trophies. 1929

In the same year, the Abernathy cup was competed for by boys. Dr. Penwill was the first winner of this cup, and later, 1931-33 held the office of president.

1931 relay teams

The victorious CASC men and women's relay teams of 1931.

For many years Crescent had lost to White Rock but when they finally did win, the publicity and the local celebration that took place, was comparable to winning the Grey Cup.

*Chuck Hill was an exceptional swimming instructor and coach. He had sun bleached tawny hair, a well built, suntanned torso and a manner which endeared him to everyone. He bivouacked in a tent for the two summer months on a lot on McBride Ave. across from Sunshine Alley. His tent was also located one vacant lot over from a privately owned tennis court.

CBSC 1931 swim teams

The CASC with their trophies. The Crescent swimming club was the most competitive of all clubs in B.C.

Red Roof Store

For many years cups, trophies and medals were presented on a late August evening from the steps of this store. After the CASC won the coveted Semiahmoo Cup from White Rock, hundreds and hundreds of people gathered in front to celebrate and to witness the presentations. (In later years, the same store was operated by George Gardiner and family).

The club had an active sailboat racing section, which continued until about 1952.

Sailing race

Note the gaff–rigged main sail. Rarely used today in favor of the Bermuda triangle.

In 1953 under the guidance of Club Director Sherwood Lett, the club was incorporated under the Societies Act, to be known as the Crescent Beach Swimming Club. The village of Crescent had previously changed its name to Crescent Beach on the advice of the post office.

During the same year the club constructed its second 25 yard tank for training and Mr. John Wickson allowed the club to use their family tidal pool for teaching beginners.

In 1961, the club constructed its own tidal pool on land made available by the B.C. Packers Ltd. When theCrescent Oyster Company property behind the end of Blackie Spit was subsequently sold to the Municipality of Surrey for the use of a park, the club was granted a 20 year lease of an acre, which included the pool area. Tennis courts were added later. In 1962 the club constructed a diving tank, making a total of three tanks at the point.

3-tank raft in winter storage

The 3-tank raft in winter storage back of the Burlington Northern Railway bridge over the Nicomekl River 1962.


1966 CBSC swim team

In the sixties, annual field days were held at Camp Alexandra during July with running races, an egg throwing contest and a tug of war. Foot races were held in front of Oppenheimers at the point each Friday at 7 p.m. All children were eligible to participate in these races. Annual fishing (bullhead) derbies were held. Golf events also took place. The sailing club was primarily to teach sailing techniques to youngsters 10 to 16. Cross-country bike races were held during the summer. Tennis was and still is very popular.

cut-down tank 1999

A cut–down version of the CBSC tank as it appeared moored off the Point in 1999. In the distance, the sailing club is out in full force running a buoyed course.

CBSC tidal pool on Blackie Spit

CBSC tidal pool on Blackie Spit as it appeared in 1999. One would never guess from looking at the drab outside it was so picturesque inside.

Men and women who got their start in the Crescent Beach swimming club and went on to compete in Olympic competitions are namely; Noel Morrow (Oxenbury) 1936 Olympics, Irene Whitler (Strong) 1948, Bruce Robertson 72/76, Leslie Cliff (Tindle) 1972 and Bill Mahoney 1972.

Summer residents who opened up their cottages on The first of July and went home on Labor Day formed the club originally. Traditionally, club memberships are taken beginning the first of July for the average of 63 days of club activities, weather permitting. Children who lived the year around in the village were welcome to join. When the tide was up, swimming was available all around the perimeter of the beach. The club had very little opposition except for the White Rock Amateur Swimming Club, which in those days could easily have been reached by train. Today the situation has changed. Crescent Beach is no longer a summer resort. There are very few summer cottages left. There are also indoor pools open the year around, one in South Surrey and one in Newton.

Gil Dyck, chairman of a long range planning committee formed in 1974, firmly believed that the CBSC should aim towards a permanent recreational facility that would house an indoor swimming pool and indoor racquet courts. Historically, he said, the club has been an integral part of the social and recreational activities of Crescent Beach.


For further up–to-date information CLICK HERE to see the CBSC's web site.

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