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Royal - from Beira Lake to man-made swimming pool

Royal have come a long way in aquatic sport over the years and is now a leading establishment in inter-school competition as well as at National Level.

The Royal College Union with the very willing and active participation of the Royal College Union Aquatic Club, the parents of swimmers and all interested in the growth of swimming activities at the school will fund the three branches - swimming, diving and waterpolo so that the name of the school will be established in all branches of squatic sport.

Royalist of the 2000 Millennium are unaware where they had their first Swimming Pool about 125 year ago "it was the Beira Lake", which stretched from the present Pettah Bus Station to Slave Island by the Church. Their mode of transport to the landing stage by the church was to be rowed across by boat from shore to shore that was around till 1912.

With the centenary Celebrations approaching in 1935 Principal L.H.W. Sampson (1932/1939) roused the Royalist young and old to build a Swimming Pool at Cinnamon Gardens to remember the Centenary year (1935) of Royal College and a fully equipped gymnasium was also on the agenda. The senior sports Cricket (1879), Football (1896), Athletics (1885), Rugby (1916), Hockey (1916) Boxing (1913), Tennis (1921) were introduced, may be official school encounters came later. A Swimming club was formed in 1934 but a note in another magazine says it was revival of club.

Funds were scarce but "lo and behold" our "Santa Claus" emerged in the form of Governor His Excellency Sir Edwards Stubbs, who mentioned in his prize-day speech at Royal in 1934 that he was donating Rs. 1000.00 to the college swimming pool fund. This donation was a phenomenal sum 70 years ago. The Royal College Union (Old Boys) faced with rising costs, slowly by little took 28 years (1963) to collect sufficient funds to embark on the project. The talk in school was that the present quadrangle was to be the site for the pool. It took nearly 20 years better late than never.

Swimming at Royal College (after the Japanese air raid in 1942 was out of the question it was restrictions all over. Royal shifted to the University buildings in 1942 and in 1943 to 2 bungalows at Colpetty (Kollupitiya). School hours were 12.15 to 5.15 p.m. The "Paper Controller" - a Government Official ordered that only one Magazine per year be printed and not three magazines.

From 1943, Mr. B.C. Anghie was Master-in-Charge after a long lapse in 1947 the House-Swimming meet was held at the St. Thomas Pool. The Magazine commented, "Although we have no pool of our own, the relative standard of our swimming was high."

In 1948 the Magazine noted "Our activities were curtailed this term owing to the epidemic of Poliomyelitis." Biggest contributions to the funds was made by Mr. Vimel a Royalist with a donation Rs. 2000.00

There were no other office-bearers from students for swimming except the Secretary. U. Amerasinghe from 1942 to 1946. Thereafter it was A.E.A. Batholamuesez from 1947. In 1946 Amerasinghe says in his report "swimming has been resumed after 4 years."

So on 22nd February 1963 at 9 am (nekath time - auspicious time) Sir Nicholas Atygalle cut the first sod of earth for the new pool which was declared open by the Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake. It took 5 long years to materialize and had cost around Rs. 33,000.00. Acting Principal Bogoda Premaratne referred to the wonderful spirit of loyalty and determination of the Royal College Union the Old Boys to help the young generation. The title given at the time was swimming "bath" not a pool.

Even before this historic event for Royal, Swimming was in vogue at Royal as early as 1934 with F.D. Swan (Capt). The guest of honour for the evening gala was Rear Admiral R. Kadirgamar, President of the Ceylon Amateur Swimming Association and Mrs. Kadirgamar distributed the awards. In 1934 Royal tied with St. Peters College for the swimming championship. The first Master In-charge of swimming was B.C. Anghie.

He supervised rugby too - the 2nd term magazine of 1934 has the captain's report which says 1st March 1934 - Royal had 2 firsts in the Swimming Gala (organized by CASA) free style 66 2/3 yards and in the 100 yds. New records were created by the swimmers. The best known Royalist Swimmers in the 1930s were P.A.G. Collins "Peter" and F.D. Swan "Frank".

Club formed

To mention that while the pool was under construction, no swimming captain was elected.

A swimming club was formed in 1934 and participated in schools meet at S. Thomas' College Pool - the team F.D. Swan, R.H. Aldons, A.V. Perera, P.A.G. Collins and Bruce Elsmore (Son of a serviceman of the British Army Garrison in Colombo) Elsmore won 2 events (junior) in record time. Other schools were (1) St. Thomas College, (2) St. Johns College, Panadura (they had no pool, their pool was the Panadura River by St. Johns Church where they held their practices and swimming meets) (3) Garrison Boys Sports Club (Sons of British Army Personnel) (4) St. Peters College (5) Boys from Otters Club, I am proud to say that my first school was St. Johns College, Panadura (Primary).

70 years ago Royalists went on their bicycles / some by bus for practices to st. Thomas Pool, Mount Lavinia or Practiced in the sea by Kinross Avenue at Wellawatte with the opening of the pool at St. Josephs College, Maradana. Royalists' problems were eased. Royal owe a big thank you to both St. Thomas and St. Joseph for the help over many years.

F.D. Swan was one of the great Swimmers at Royal. He represented Ceylon at the Empire Games Australia at 1938. Later D.J. Bolling out did Swans performances. In 1940 H.M. (Miles) Christofellz was the live wire in the swimming sector.

Harry Nightingale an Olympic champion did yoeman service as swimming coach in the 1940's thereafter brothers Norman and B.I. Gunawardane, FCM Schockman served Royal well following them thereafter from 1958 were M.H. Claasz, M.S. Jebarajah, J. Gunesegaram (Capt) O.K. Raheem and in the late 1960's, J.H. Peiris, V.S. Boteju, L.G. Abeysekera, Z. Jacksic, J.A. Ranasinghe, P.A. Karunasinghe won many events for Royal.

Jebarajah and M.H. Claasz represented Ceylon in the Indo-Ceylon Swimming Meet. The Principal at the time was Dudley K.G. De Silva. To mention that B.I. Gunawardane was a member of the Ceylon Life Saving Team at the Surf Life Saving Carnival held in Perth, Western Australia.

In the early 1960s the swimmers were able to practise closer to home - the Singhalese Sports Club Pool. Thank you to the S.S.C. authorities too. 1969 was record year for swimmers 5 trophies were won at the Public Schools meet.

J.G. Ratnayake was the outstanding swimmer helped by O.R. Wijetunge, D.R. Subasinghe. In 1971 F.B.P. Chandrasekera was selected to represent Ceylon in the Palk Strait Swim. At the Annual open 2 mile swim 7 Royalists finished within the standard time of 70 minutes. In 1972 Royal Senior & Junior teams won the chief trophies the outstanding swimmer C.B. Pattiarachchi helped Royal to win the national championship and later represented Sri Lanka at Peking on the Internationals.

The late 1970's saw the appearance of another fine swimmer Thimothy Speldewinde. From this period onwards Julian Bolling dominated the Swimming. He established many Sri Lankan records and finally represented Sri Lanka at the 9th Asian Games. Royal won the Schools championship with Julian Bolling prominent. Bolling represented Sri Lanka at Olympic Games held in Los Angels in 1984, in Seoul in 1988, and Barcelona in 1992 and while still at school Bolling also gained gold medals at the South East Asian Games.

Some of Royal's coaches must be mentioned. They are Gaith Edeman (the first coach), Grey Roszkowski (a Josephian), Bill Pontier, Peter Collins, Tony Walls (Australian), L.D. Smith, J.H. Peiris, A. Ranasinghe, Gordon Perera, E.G.A. Wilson, Rizvi Zain, Mahinda Liyanage. This is not a complete list among the Teachers In-Charge were B.C. Anghie (the first Master In-Charge) Mr. M.B.H. Wariyapola, Mr. Mohamed, Mr. Malawa, Mr. Sunimal Silva, Mrs. L. Jayatilake, To mention that the Royal Student swimmers of recent times have maintained the high standards set by Frank Swan and Peter Collins 70 years ago.

Outstanding performances

In the recent past Royal has continued to produce outstanding aquatic sportsmen, who have proudly represented Sri Lanka and brought fame to Alma Mater. Timothy Speldewinde represented the country in the 1982 Asian Games. Julian Bolling and Rifdy Fahmy represented Sri Lanka in the SAF games 85, 87, 89 and in 1991 Julian Bolling and Azim Azaain represented the country at the SAF games.

Julian Bolling also represented the country in the 1986 Asian games and in the Asian Age Group in 1987 championship. Azim Azaain and Janaka Perera represented the country at the Indo Lanka Meet at Bangladesh games Sri Lanka was represented by Royalists Piyal Hewage, David Bolling, Julian Bolling, Timothy Speldewinde, Naresh Ross and Suresh Ross. Tivanka de Alwis and Jehan Mubarak also represented the country.

Royal has also produced several outstanding Waterpolo players out of which Ravi Muthukumaran and Azim Azaain represented in the SAF Water Polo Championship held in Calcutta in 1992 and at the 1995 Bangkok Games. Water Polo Championship Azim Azaain captained the Sri Lankan side which comprised Royalists, Nethru Nanayakara, Mahinda Liyanage, Piyal Hewage and Julian Bolling were at the Asia Pacific Water Polo Championship 2002. Sanjay Fernando, Janith Pieris, Sohan wu, and Thusitha Grero, Prathish Sivaratnam represented the country.

Also in Water Polo, Avantha Tennakoon, Ganaka Herath, Dilhan Sri Chandrasekera, Fareed Noor Hameen, Harsha Kodithuwakku, Charith Ratwatte, represented at the Junior National Championship in 1996 and 1998 and Yohan Rozario and Maduranga Kulathilake represented at the Asian Age Group Championship in 2002.

In Diving, Royal College has been dominating the sport in Sri Lanka for several years and Janaka Biyanwala was outstanding representing the country at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic only the 2nd Sri Lankan Diver to represent the country in recent past and he also participated at the World Championship in 1994 and Commonwealth Games held in Malaysia in 1998, and in the 1995 Asia Pacific held in Colombo Janaka Biyanwala won 3 gold medals in the spring board and platform diving.

Among the other "Royal Divers" Mahinda Liyanage had the honour of captaining Sri Lankan side at the Asia Pacific Championship held in Colombo and he also participated in the 2nd SAF Diving Championship where he won a Silver Medal in the platform diving. Chanaka Wickramasinghe represented Sri Lanka at the Asia Pacific held in Malaysia in 1998.

Also in 1999 Chanaka represented at the 12th Junior World Diving Championship held in Czech Republic and in 2000 he captained the team at the Asia Pacific Swimming and Diving Championship held in Chinese Taipei where he won a Bronze Medal in Spring Board Diving and he also represented at the 2001 Asian Swimming and Diving Championship held in Hong Kong and 2003 held in Macau 2003.

Royalist Esiri Kankanige also represented the country at the Asia Pacific Games held in Malaysia in 1998 and in 1999 which was held in India. He also took part in the Asian Swimming and Diving Championship held in Macau 2003.

Now it is time to have a well planned swimming pool for young Royalists and Old Royalists. It was a good start and improvements will bring out the best from the swimmers.

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