The Camden Swiss Cottage Swimming Club we know today started out as Mermaid SC, an elite club for ladies in the 1890s. A far cry from today’s accessible approach, membership was restricted, admission was by 'audition' and the good swimmers had private coaches.

1940s – mid 1970s

In 1948 a splinter group broke off to form Hampstead Ladies SC. Some 20 years later, boys began being admitted to both the Mermaid and Hampstead clubs. Training took place mainly in private pools, at Highgate School (now the Mallinson Centre) and the Shell Centre.

Meanwhile Priory, a local boys’ swimming club began to accept girls and became Camden SC, later to become Camden-Hampstead SC.

By the time the pool at Swiss Cottage Centre opened in 1964 there were 9 local clubs competing for pool time. The Camden clubs faced tough competition from local rivals such as Harrow, Barnet and Ealing who were all being strongly supported by their boroughs. So in 1977, with the help of Camden Sports Council, Harry Oppenheim, the chair of Camden- Hampstead SC, persuaded the local clubs to merge and form the Camden Swimming Association.

A constitution was adopted to foster swimming and other sports for recreation and safety, as well as providing a centre of excellence in competitive swimming.

Mid 1970s – mid 1980s

In 1978, Mermaid-Marlin (as it was now known) and Camden-Hampstead joined forces to become Swiss Cottage SC and the existing Mermaid-Marlin coach, Al Richards, took the helm. In 1979 the club took over the aims and responsibilities of the entire Association to become Camden Swiss Cottage SC, with Neville Cross from Nova Centurian SC (in Nottingham) appointed as the first full-time Chief Coach.

Mid 1980s – 2017

In 1984, Dave Hobbs replaced Cross, who moved north to Scotland, as Director of Swimming, a position he was to hold for almost 30 years. Dave was instrumental in the club’s huge expansion between 1989 and 1995 and then maintained the standard and size of the club until his retirement in 2012.

In 2015, Matt Heathcock took over as Head Coach. During Matt's tenure the club restructured, instigated a novices gala and continued to grow and produce some outstanding results, including reaching the National Final of the Arena Junior Inter-League competition in 2017.


Adam Taylor joined the club as Head Coach in December 2017 when Matt relocated to the south coast for family reasons.

Today the club runs all out of school teaching for the London Borough of Camden, which has not only assisted in increasing club member numbers but has also helped subsidise many young competitive swimmers.

The club's main priority, lies in helping all swimmers, whatever their level, to maximise their potential. Hundreds of children are still trying out for the competitive squads every year and those who make the grade are progressing well along the club’s pathway all the way to the Performance Gold squad under the tutelage of the Head Coach.

The surrounding support of office staff, loyal members and their parents, especially those involved as officials - a growing area for us - is also a hugely important factor in the continuing success of Camden Swiss Cottage.