Crescent Beach Swimming Club
The Crescent Beach Swimming Club is the oldest summer swim club in British Columbia with 102 summers under our belt. What started as a swim club has evolved into a multi-sport multi-activity program embraced by hundreds of families every summer.
Our mission is to “Create a community where children can have fun, and learn skills & sportsmanship, while doing a variety of outdoor summer activities in a safe and inclusive beach environment; making memories for generations to come.” We are a volunteer run organization and while we are extremely proud of our kids when they do well in competitions, our real focus is on having good clean family outdoor fun. And the result of doing this for over 100 years is a strong and vibrant community with some amazing traditions. Crescent Beach and the CBSC sometimes feel like the land that time forgot, and that’s what makes it so special!
Like all good community organizations, we can trace our roots back to some very humble beginnings. The Crescent Beach Regatta Association (as we were originally known) was founded in 1918 and our first swimming “Gala” featured 10 competitors. By 1921, we were the Crescent Amateur Swimming Club and the highlight of each summer was the hard fought Inter-Beach Gala competition with the White Rock Amateur Swim Club, and especially the “Semiahmoo Cup” race between the men’s relay teams.
In the early days, our “facilities” consisted of a wooden dock moored in the ocean off Blackie Spit. The dock framed a 25-yard swimming area and was known simply as “The Tank”.
In 1953, the Club was renamed the “Crescent Beach Swimming Club” and a second 25-yard tank was added. While the Tanks were fine for the older children, younger swimmers took their lessons in “The Tidal Pool” – a dirt-bottom pool that was connected to the ocean by a big pipe. The water level (and seaweed level and jelly-fish level) was controlled by valves that had to be opened and closed every day as the tide went in and out.
Tennis and diving were added in 1958. In 1961 we were able to build a better Tidal Pool (but still with seaweed and jelly fish, and apparently a harbor seal on one memorable day). We built two tennis courts next to the pool in 1964; sailing lessons started in 1968; and synchronized swimming was added in 1970.
Water Polo and windsurfing programs were launched in 1983. And in 1990, our beloved Tidal Pool, having evolved continuously over 30 years (including the addition of a cement bottom and sides, and a circulation/filtration system instead of a pipe to the ocean) was given a heating system that worked (sort of) and participation in swimming lessons jumped dramatically. Today our one acre compound on Blackie Spit is home to the current iteration of the Tidal Pool (a properly heated 25 meter salt water pool), four tennis courts and a clubhouse (a portable classroom that we acquired in the 1980s and converted into a work space for our coaches)
While the focus of the CBSC has always been on fun and participation, we have produced a number of elite athletes, including several Olympic medalists. Every year we send numerous competitors to the Provincial championships and we regularly host swim meets and tennis tournaments.
Throughout the history of the CBSC, the parents in our community have been the volunteers that make the whole thing work. The only paid staff are the coaches and almost all of them are the very children who were taking the tennis, swimming and sailing lessons a few years earlier. And while the CBSC has been providing amazing summers and first job experiences for thousands of young people, their volunteer parents have been having just as much fun. The social side of the CBSC (ranging from golf and tennis to boating and bridge) has always been part of the magic, helping to build a strong multi-generational community.
And what do we look like today? We continue to run a very busy 8-week program every July and August. Membership continues to be available to any and all – a family membership is only $180. In 2016 we had 400 Family members and another 132 senior, individual and social members. Total participation in CBSC activities exceeds 1,800 people, including 700+ below age 13, and they are taking lessons in swimming, tennis, sailing, water polo, synchronized swimming, kids triathlon, volleyball and, new in 2016, paddleboarding!
Other activities include Friday night foot races, BINGO, Bullhead Derbies, teen and pre-teen dances, Sandcastle Competitions, a Kids Triathlon, parent and child competitions in swimming, tennis and sailing, family picnics, swim meets, tennis tournaments, sailing regattas, a half-mile swim, and the Snail River Run.
We remain an entirely volunteer-run organization and as a result are able to deliver this 8-week program for a total operating budget of $400,000 (as of 2018).
No discussion of the CBSC would be complete without a description of the traditional CBSC rite of passage… swimming the Tank! Yes, the Tank that started it all is still the focus of many CBSC traditions. It starting as a single 25-yard pool, grew into a three pool complex that hosted many swim meets, and then shrunk back down as the costs of maintaining it started to rise. For the last decade we have preserved it as an L-shaped raft that allows us to create a single 25-yard swimming lane. For most of the summer the Tank is a much-used amenity enjoyed by anyone visiting Crescent Beach for a swim. But on two mornings each summer, we use the Tank to welcome a new generation of “Tankers” to the CBSC – children who are able to swim 25 yards in the open ocean. Approximately 100 children “Swim the Tank” each summer, with hundreds of cheering spectators encouraging them from the beach. The CBSC has many enduring traditions but this one is probably our most cherished.