Our History

The history of Carlile Swimming is intertwined with the history of modern swimming in Australia. Before Forbes and Ursula Carlile opened the doors of their very first swim school in Sydney’s Drummoyne in 1955, they were laying the foundations for their progressive approach to swimming education.

A lifelong swimmer and coach, Forbes earned a Master of Science degree before working closely with legendary sports scientist, Professor Frank Cotton at the University of Sydney. From there, he and Ursula set about revolutionising training methods.

Forbes invented the pace clock – an iconic innovation now found on pool decks worldwide – and the Carliles were the first introduce lane ropes and goggles as training aids for competitive swimmers. The Carliles also pioneered new training methods, such as interval training and heart rate monitoring, that are now widely used by coaches around the world. And the results speak for themselves, with Carlile athletes winning numerous national, Commonwealth and Olympic titles, and Forbes and Ursula having been recognised around the world for their unprecedented contributions to the sport of swimming.

But it was introducing children to the joys of swimming and the impact of teaching a potentially life saving skill that really motivated the Carliles and led them to open Australia’s first commercial swim school in Drummoyne in 1955; and to build Sydney’s first indoor swim school in Ryde in 1962.

Through the swim schools and seeing first hand the positive impact swimming had on his student’s lives, Forbes was inspired to coin the phrase “To swim well is an asset for life” ; a saying which has become commonly used in the swimming community and which has proved so true for many Australians.

1940s

1940s

Forbes Carlile achieved his Master of Science Degree. While lecturing in Physiology at the University of Sydney; he worked closely with Professor Frank Cotton, Australia’s Father of Sports Science in Australia’s first sports science laboratory.  

1940s

1940s

Forbes invented the pace clock which you now see on virtually every pool deck around the world; and was the first to use lane ropes in training.

1946

Forbes coached an elite group of swimmers in the rock pool at Palm Beach.

1948

1948

Forbes was appointed as Australia’s National Coach to the London Olympics Games. 

1950s

1950s

Scientific research conducted on swimmers by Forbes and Ursula Carliles, revolutionised the world of sport. They used the pace clock, circle swimming, log books, interval training, heart rates, blood counts and other tests to monitor training. The Carliles’ methods eventually became standard practice throughout the world.

1952

1952

Forbes was selected as Australia’s first modern pentathlete at the Helsinki Olympics, giving him the unique distinction of being the only person to first coach and then compete at an Olympic Games. In 1955 Forbes opened Australia’s first commercial swimming school that catered for all levels at Drummoyne, Sydney.

1955

1955

In 1955 Forbes opened Australia’s first commercial swimming school that catered for all levels at Drummoyne, Sydney.

1960s

The Carliles won the coaching rights at the Ryde Swimming Centre, now Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre.

1962

1962

Sydney’s first indoor swimming school was opened by the Carliles at Cross Street, Ryde. It continues to operate as a successful swim school today.

1962-66

1962-66

The Carliles were appointed national swimming coaches for Holland. They coached the Dutch team to outstanding success at the European Championships and the Tokyo Olympics.

1966

1966

One of the world’s first commercial swimming programs for mothers and babies was introduced at the Pymble indoor pool.

1968

1968

The Carliles purchase Castle Cove Swim Centre from former pupil and world record holder, Terry Gathercole.

1972

1972

Ursula Carlile was appointed Australia’s first female Olympic swim coach. At the Munich Olympics, Shane Gould won five medals: three gold, one silver and a bronze, a feat unequaled by any other female athlete, to this day. Shane Gould, a Carlile pupil from the Ryde Club, became the first person to hold every freestyle world record simultaneously, from 100m through to 1500m. This feat is unlikely to be repeated.

1973-82

The Carliles were appointed “Honorary National Swimming Coaches” to the People’s Republic of China.

1974-78

John Coutts won a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly at the 1974 Commonwealth Games and represented New Zealand at the 1976 Olympics. He was the first person to swim Cook Strait in both directions in 1977 and then in 1978, breaking the record.

1977

Forbes was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Narrabeen Academy of Sport joins Pymble and Ryde as one of the organisation’s “elite training” locations. The Member of the British Empire (MBE) was awarded to Forbes for his services to swimming.

1978

1978

The lifetime achievements of Forbes Carlile were celebrated on This Is Your Life with Roger Climpson.

1980-83

During the 1970s Tim Ford (now a Director of Carlile Swimming) swam for the Ryde-Carlile Swimming Club. In the 1980s he studied at the AIS and subsequently competed for Australia in the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

1983

1983

John Coutts won the Marathon Swimming Championships held in Italy.

1985-86

1985-86

Richard Cahalan was awarded the All American Award at the NCCA Championships recognising the top 16 swimmers in the US.

1985

The Killarney Heights facility was purchased and it soon became recognised as Australia’s leading swim school.

1987

John and Sally Coutts moved their family from New Zealand to manage the Killarney Heights Swim Centre.

1990

The Killarney Heights facility was recognised as a Centre of Excellence, by Australian Swimming and the Australian Institute of Sport.

1992

1992

Richard and Patty Cahalan moved from Florida to manage the Castle Cove Swim Centre.

1995

The Australian Swimming Coaches’ and Teachers’ Association (ASCTA) honoured the Carliles for their Contribution to the Teaching of Swimming in Australia.

1996

Forbes was honoured by his peers at the ASCTA annual convention, for 50 years of devoted service to swimming.

2002

A state-of-the-art swim school was built and opened at Norwest Business Park, Baulkham Hills.

2003-4

Carlile Swimming opened its Head Office at Fairlight. Carlile Swimming launched its new brand. Many awards were bestowed on the Carliles, including Forbes and Ursula being inducted into the National Swim School Association Hall of Fame – and Forbes being granted Life Membership to Swimming Australia. Ursula was also inducted into the US Swim Schools Hall of Fame. Forbes was honoured by his peers at the ASCTA annual convention, for 50 years of devoted service to swimming.

2005

A purpose built swim school facility was opened at Cherrybrook.

2007

Carlile Swimming Lane Cove commenced operation in October.

2008

Carlile Swimming Carlingford opened in February.

2009

Carlile Swimming Altona opened in April, in the Bayfit Leisure Centre in Melbourne. The Systems Office re-located to Brookvale and Carlile Swimming Five Dock was opened.

2011

Ursula Carlile was granted life membership to Swimming Australia.

2016

Director, John Coutts was inducted into the US Swim Schools Hall of Fame.

2016

2016

Forbes Carlile passed away on 2 August. His funeral was attended by more than 800 people and his achievements were honoured globally. Forbes and Ursula Carlile were inducted into the inaugural ASSA Hall of Fame.

2017

Our Lane Cove swim school is relocated to a purpose built, state of the art centre in Lane Cove West.

The Future

The Carlile Swimming success story is set to continue with a new swim school due to open in the Harbord Diggers redevelopment in 2019.