Women In Sport : Pre-Confederation Newfoundland
Project Team
The Rooms
Home / Swimming Photographs

The public of Newfoundland, visitors and travellers, are informed that the town of St. John’s is at length supplied with ... Hot, Cold, Vapor and Shower, Salt and Fresh Water BATHS: also Salt Water Swimming BATHS ...[with] separate departments for Ladies and Gentleman - (Public Ledger, 18 July 1860)

In Newfoundland swimming (also known as “bathing”) was usually a recreational summer activity, confined to local swimming holes and sheltered coves. There were various swimming clubs established which served as social organizations.

The City Point Bathing Club was founded in 1887 in St. John’s. The St. John’s Swimming Club was active in the early 1900s. Members met regularly for a morning dip at Chain Rock near the mouth of the harbour. In 1914 theM.I.A. Swimming Club built a bathing house at Long Pond, where its members wereable to socialize after their swim.

In the early 1900s, there were additional opportunities for competitive swimming. From 1909 to 1914, the St. John’s Regatta featured an “across the pond” race, which became an annual addition to the day’s events. The first races were restricted to members of the local boys’ brigades. The Bowring Park Pool was open in 1918, with separate swimming areas for girls and boys, with organized races for both.

In 1928, the St. John’s Rotary Club constructed a swimming pool at Rennie’s River and hired two lifeguards to provide instruction to the city’s boys and girls. An annual swim meet was held each August with diving competitions and various races. The Rennie’s River Pool made a significant contribution to the development of competitive swimming in St. John’s. The pool closed in 1939.

In 1931 the Ocean Pond Annual Regatta included a Ladies’ Swimming Race among the day’s events.  The St. John’s Regatta Committee sponsored an annual swimming championship, held at Quidi Vidi Pool, starting in July 1936. Races were held for both men and women. The Caribou Swimming Pool reactivated the St. John’s city-wide swimming championships in 1946, which had been on hiatus since 1940. There were five races for boys and one for girls.


SANL 1.44.001
Rennie's River Swimming Pool [1928]

PANL A33-130
The Swimming Pool, Bowring Park near St. John's [194-?]