The Colombo Swimming Club | Sunday Observer

The Colombo Swimming Club

The Colombo Swimming Club was initially located at the Galle Face Hotel. The Club moved from the Galle Face Hotel to the current location in Kollupitiya, in 1938. The building in Kollupitiya is called “Storm Lodge”. At that time, and until about 1973, the Club was exclusively for Europeans. After 1973, locals were also given memberships and they took over the administration of the Club. David Wilkie, an Olympic Gold medalist who lived in Sri Lanka during his childhood years, learned to swim at the Colombo Swimming Club, according to the officials of the Club.

At that time, there were only six rooms and one restaurant. The Club has photographs of what it looked like in the past. The Management has made several changes to the atmosphere of the Club, and brought it back to the original appearance because a lot of amendments had been made which changed it from the original look. They have gone back to the old look during the last four years and brought back all the old architectural features. For example, the corridor was blocked in certain places, but now, from one end of the corridor you can see the other end, which is like what it was in the beginning. And now, when one comes to the entrance they can see the sea, whereas earlier one could not, because five years ago it was closed. They have now opened it up and it has gone back to the original colonial architecture of the British era. All the facilities have been upgraded and now there are 19 rooms.

The Club is family oriented and ladies are allowed to become members and it encourages families to avail of their facilities. They do not give individual memberships, and when one becomes a member they become a family member, and each member of the family is a member. It was originally a British club, and therefore they have a category for overseas members. Even members who live overseas can continue to be members. The Club has reciprocal arrangements with about 130 clubs worldwide, including England, Australia, Hong Kong and India.

The atmosphere and facilities of the Club could be described as similar to that of a mini hotel as it has most of the facilities that a hotel would have. The Club has squash, badminton and table tennis courts as well as, an excellent gymnasium. The Club also has good restaurants, food and beverage facilities and a library. The administration of the Club is performed by a Committee which is appointed by the members. All decisions are devolved to the Committee. The President and the Vice President are trustees of the Club. A support structure has been built during the last four years. It was previously managed by a Committee, but now they have hired professionals to manage it. The General Manager and Heads of Departments oversee the day-to-day activities of the Club.

The major events of the Club are, the Sports Day, Christmas party and Members’ night on the first Friday of December. The most sought after event is the 31st night celebrations. There are children’s birthday parties on a weekly basis as well as, family functions. Children come for swimming classes, and they also have karate, aerobic and yoga classes.

The banquet facilities include a restaurant, another hall which is presently being refurbished, and a few smaller rooms that could be used for functions. The two main buildings of the Club are the Storm lodge and the Monsoon lodge. The bars, restaurants, rooms and kitchen are in the Storm lodge. The Club has a coffee shop, and adjoining the coffee shop is the toddlers play area. And adjoining that is the teenage recreation area. If a lady wants to come and sit with a book and a glass of wine, it is the ideal Club because she would not be judged or hassled or troubled. It has that kind of atmosphere. Ladies bring their friends to play scrabble or bridge. They are currently re-doing the kids’ pool and play area. The Club balances the two aspects where there is a bar and people can come and have a drink, but they also believe that the family can come and enjoy the facilities.