Our History - Swimming Classes for Kids Since 1955

For 65 years, Carlile has been offering swimming classes for kids, pioneering teaching methods  that are now used around the world. Before our founders, Forbes and Ursula Carlile, opened the doors of Australia’s first commercial swim school, they spent years developing their progressive approach to swimming education.

From being one of the first in Sydney to teach babies to swim, to coaching Olympic greats, the Carlile name is intertwined with the history of Australian swimming. Keep reading to learn more about our history and the incredible contribution of the Carlile’s to swimming, not only in Australia but across the world.

You can also view some inspiring video footage of what Forbes and Ursula achieved, thanks to Foxtel’s documentary the Spirit of Australian Sport click here.

New Training Methods

Forbes began coaching and trialing new training methods in 1946 at the Palm Beach rock pool, where he produced the first of his Olympic greats, John Davies. It was also here that Forbes invented the first pace clock, an iconic innovation now found on pool decks worldwide.

During this time, Forbes earned a Master of Science degree before working closely with legendary sports scientist, Professor Frank Cotton at the University of Sydney.

Revolutionising Swimming Training

Forbes and Ursula used their scientific backgrounds to revolutionise swim training methods and they soon became one of the most successful coaching partnerships Australia has ever seen.

The Carliles pioneered new training methods, such as interval training and heart rate monitoring, which are now widely used by coaches around the world. They also introduced ground breaking techniques, including the use of lane ropes and goggles as training aids for competitive swimmers.

Revolutionising Swimming Training

Forbes and Ursula used their scientific backgrounds to revolutionise swim training methods and they soon became one of the most successful coaching partnerships Australia has ever seen.

The Carliles pioneered new training methods, such as interval training and heart rate monitoring, which are now widely used by coaches around the world. They also introduced ground breaking techniques, including the use of lane ropes and goggles as training aids for competitive swimmers.

Coaching Swimming Greats

Forbes coached other swimming greats such as Karen Moras, Gail Neall, Jan Murphy, Terry Gathercole, John Ryan and Jenny Turrall. Carlile athletes won multiple National, Commonwealth and Olympic titles, and Forbes and Ursula are recognised around the world for their unprecedented contributions to the sport of swimming.

The pair also produced one of the greatest swimmers of all-time, Shane Gould. At just 15, Shane held every freestyle world record simultaneously, a feat that has never been repeated.

World-class Coaches

Forbes and Ursula became sought-after the world over for their coaching expertise. Forbes was selected as a swimming coach for the 1948 Tokyo Olympics. Ursula was Australia’s first female Olympic coach on the 1972 team to Munich, an incredible achievement for those days. Forbes and Ursula also coached The Netherlands and Ursula coached in the People’s Republic of China.

Forbes and Ursula are both members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the only husband and wife coaching team to have achieved such an honour. They are also members of the Australian Swim Schools Association Hall of Fame, The Swimaustralia Hall of Fame and they are both Life members of Swimming Australia.

World-class Coaches

Forbes and Ursula became sought-after the world over for their coaching expertise. Forbes was selected as a swimming coach for the 1948 Tokyo Olympics. Ursula was Australia’s first female Olympic coach on the 1972 team to Munich, an incredible achievement for those days. Forbes and Ursula also coached The Netherlands and Ursula coached in the People’s Republic of China.

Forbes and Ursula are both members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the only husband and wife coaching team to have achieved such an honour. They are also members of the Australian Swim Schools Association Hall of Fame, The Swimaustralia Hall of Fame and they are both Life members of Swimming Australia.

Teaching Kids to Swim

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. This led them to open Australia’s first commercial swim school in Drummoyne in 1955. They later went on to build Sydney’s first indoor swim school in Ryde in 1961.

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”. This saying is now commonly used in the swimming community and has proved true for so many Australians who grow up enjoying our many waterways and beaches.

At Carlile Swimming, we are proud of our history and the incredible contribution by our founders, Forbes and Ursula Carlile, to the sport of swimming and indeed the world of sports. Even though we are steeped in history, it’s the Carlile value of innovation that continues to enhance our swim programs today.

For more information on our expert swim programs, or to book your child in for an assessment, get in touch today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Get in touch