The history of EFDSC

1977 ~ 2002 : Silver Jubilee Year

In our Silver Jubilee year, 2002, we are delighted to publish a history of the first 25 years of Epping Forest District Swimming Club. It was initially written in 1998 by Jeff Stumbke, our ex-Chairman and senior club official. Over the years, Jeff has probably devoted more time to the Club than anyone else and he has recently brought the history up to the present day.


Epping Forest District Swimming Club was formed at a meeting held at Epping Sports Centre on 27 October 1976. The inaugural committee was:

Mr I Wooll
Mr Whitehair
Mr Hinds
Mrs Brock
Mr Freshwater

Committee Member
Committee Member

George & Christine King joined the Committee soon after.


Although the Club was created at the meeting held in October 1976 the first training sessions started at Loughton and Ongar pools in January 1977 and at Waltham Abbey in September 1977. Club colours of brown and gold/yellow were adopted. This was changed to black and yellow in 1985 when it proved impossible to obtain a supply of gold costumes.

The initial coaching and teaching staff comprised, Pauline Hepper, (who ran EFDSC learn to swim programme until her retirement), Sybil Warm, and Les Marrisen (who with 'George' used to run 'The Bubble' on Buckhurst Way, where many of our children took their first few strokes). With the departure of Pauline Hepper, shortly after the club was formed, Brian Housden took the position of Head Coach at the invitation of George King. A duckling section was subsequently formed under Linda Power. When the waiting list was opened, the queue of parents wanting to put down their children's names stretched right round the pool!!

Terry Nicholls replaced Brian Housden as Chief Coach in 1984, being replaced in turn on retirement in 1993 by Bob Carl. We then had Gavin Povall, Lee Richards and now our current head coach is Gary Couch who has over 30 years coaching experience.


The first year of the Club's existence was, inevitably, one of establishment. Even so the Club was able to field 42 swimmers on behalf of Epping Forest District at the Essex Games at Canvey Island.

In 1978 the first entries were made into the Essex County Championships. Subsequently members of the Club have regularly competed in the Essex and Southern Counties Championships, and to a lesser extent, in the National Championships. In most years the Club had provided finalists at County and District (Eastern) level and on occasion at National level.

The achievements of the 11 and under boys and girls relay teams in the 1982 Southern Counties Championships are particularly noteworthy. The boys finished first in the medley and second in the freestyle. The team went on to come 5th in the Nationals. Had they been able to reproduce the same time that they had achieved in the Southerns they would have been placed second. The girls team also did well coming second in the Southern Counties medley relay and fourth in the freestyle. In the Nationals the same girls finished 11th in the medley and 14th in the freestyle.

The story continues with fine performances in late 1980's & early 1990's by Penny Mitchell, Amy Lovell and Alison Sedgebeer. The latter, who in winning the Essex Senior backstroke, broke Sarah Hardcastle's County record. Alison reached the National Senior 200m backstroke final finishing 6th. Other National finalists have been Susie Stumbke, (now Coach Susie Clay!), 6th in the 17/18 years 800m in 1995 and Ali Bunce, third in the 12 years 50m backstroke, and 6th in the 50m butterfly at the National Age Groups in 2001.

Many Club members have also represented the county. In particular Alison, together with Penny Mitchell and Amy Lovell, travelled to Saskatoon, Canada with an Essex squad in 1990. Alison also represented the Southern Counties against the rest of the country in 1989 in an event to commemorate the centenary of the Southern Counties A.S.A.
Susie Stumbke repeated the achievement in representing England South, in Darmstadt in 1995 and against Wales, Scotland and the West of England at Swansea in 1996. James Whitehead followed in 1997 in representing the Southern Counties, together with Robert Wilkins in being selected to the Kellogg's challenge 200 squad. Many of these swimmers have been Essex and Southern Counties finalists and champions. Susie Stumbke picked up one Southern and 17 Essex titles and took part in over 80 county or Southern finals. Alison Sedgebeer had a similar record, which as observed above also included a senior National backstroke final.

Many of the Club's swimmers have been selected to represent their local schools teams in inter-borough, and county competition, and several have become county schools champions.


For a period from 1980 the Club had membership of the Modern Pentathlon Association encouraged by Phil Corbett, the then Club Secretary. The Club competed in the Modern Biathlon and Modern Triathlon, the running and swimming and running, swimming and shooting elements of the Modern Pentathlon. Members of the club were frequently placed at Eastern Counties level. In the 1990 Modern Triathlon Championships, Club swimmer Richard Cole became National Champion in the 13 and under age group. The Club no longer maintains membership of the MPAGB, although some Club members compete outside the Club in triathlon (swim,bike,run).


Club Championships were not started until 1980, largely because of the difficulties caused by the significant numbers of second claim members in the Club. Initially the championships were restricted to 100m events, however in 1983 these were extended to include a full schedule of 200m events and a 400m freestyle championship. We now include 50 metre events and 800m free for the girls and 1500m for the boys.


In 1982 the Club introduced it's 'Young Age Group' open sprint gala, open to all clubs. This event, one length of the 33.3metre Loughton Pool, with Heats & Finals, was initially sponsored by Presto Supermarkets, then by the Roding Hospital and latterly with no overall sponsor although sponsorship of individual events has still been achieved. We have had medal presentation by Olympic swimmers Sharon Davis and Andy Jamieson, local athletes Kim Hagger and Sally Gunnell and British power weightlifting champion Arthur White. From 1993 this has been supplemented by an annual 100m open meet.  We now hold two open galas covering all events, one in September and the other in December.


Club records were created retrospectively in March 1991 and are maintained on a single year, age at date of swim basis.

In 1994     95 records were broken
    1995   110
    1996    76
    1997    47
    1998    70
    1999    65
    2000   130
    2001   179

and this despite losing our main pool in 2000 and the records themselves becoming increasingly more difficult.


In 1987 a Club swimmer Nicholas Stumbke, who had been a Club Champion the previous year, died of cancer.

The Chief Coach, Terry Nicholls, donated a trophy for an internal relay gala in his memory. It has been enthusiastically and light heartedly competed for every Christmas since. Collections and raffles in aid of cancer research at these galas have raised well over £1,000.  Our Christmas Gala is a fun and well received event in the festivities calender.


Finally, some parents associated with the formation and subsequent running of the Club have become officers of the Essex A.S.A. These include the late Tony Warn, Chris and George King, Mike Sedgebeer and Richard Whitehead. Mrs Chris King was Essex President in 1999. George King is our Club President. Many other names from the local world of swimming are associated with our Club and without them we would not be where we are today.

Jeff Stumbke

2027?           25 years on ......

So, what does the future hold?

The Club will remain an important part of the local community providing as it does the only opportunity for competitive swimming for many miles around. Each year brings greater personal achievement and the times keep falling. For some children it is a stepping stone to wider personal success as they discover what can be achieved with dedication and effort.

The Club could not succeed without the hard work and time given freely by parents and, if the Club is to continue, the help and support must continue. If it is the will of the parents that the Club should flourish and grow then this will require matching time and effort by parents.

After much delay we have now settled back into our 'home pool' in the new Loughton Leisure Centre. If the recent past is any indication, we can look forward to the swimmers setting many hundreds of new Club records over the next 25 years.