Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club

The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club

The Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club was originally located on the beach at the end of Kinross Avenue and was subsequently moved furher away to Wellawatte at the end of Alexandra Road, where it still stands.

On the Beach stood the Original KS&LSC – established in 1940 . This great Club produced several Champions in Swimming & Aquatics. The Club produced several outstanding spear fishermen and introduced the sport of spear fishing to Ceylon. To name a few, the legendary Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Tissa “Saigon “ Ariyaratne, Rodney Jonklaas, Hilmi Khalid, Turab Jafferjee, Langston Pereira, Ron Bartholomeusz, Hildon Bevan were all world class spear fishermen. Rodney Jonklaas was an authority on marine life. Rodney invited Sir Arthur C Clarke and his companions Mike Wilson and Tony Buxton to explore the wrecks off the coast of Ceylon and film the magic of the sea and glorious reefs of this magic Isle. Rodney Jonklass was the Assistant Superintendent of the Colombo Zoo in the days when the Dehiwela Zoo was one of the best in the world, The Superintendent of the Zoo, the legendary Aubrey Weinman also had a close Bamba connection.

The Kinross bathing enclosure was situated opposite the site of the original KS&LSC. The enclosure was located in the sea. It consisted of two rafts and several orange barrels placed in a semi circle, a relatively safe bathing area for both bathers and swimmers. This was the idea of Mr. Guy Thiedeman, a champion athlete – Municipal Playground instructor and Lifesaver who resided in the area. However, several incidents of drowning did occur which prompted Mike Sirimanne, who was a regular swimmer, to decide that it was necessary for the presence of Life Guards. Mike with the help of his close friends, Herbert Pathiwela, Elmo and Lou Spittel, Anton Selvam, Ron Kellar, Basil Misso, Hugh Stewart were the first life savers, who received their training from Guy Thiedeman and later on Harry Nightingale, an Australian who introduced the Australian method of Surf Life Saving. This gave birth to the Kinross Life Saving Club in 1941.

The club sought and obtained affiliation to the Royal Life Saving Society of U.K. and the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. In the course of time the club ventured into competitive swimming and other aquatic sports and was named the Kinross Swimming and Life Saving Club with Guy Thiedeman the first President and Mike Sirimanne, the Legend of Kinross Club, General Secretary. The original HQ of the Club was a shack build by the founders on the beach opposite Kinross Avenue. The K.S & LSC soon became a byword in swimming and dominated the Two-Mile Sea Swims. Swim Champions Gerd Von Dincklage, Ralph Forbes, Hugh Stewart. Hilmi Khalid. Carlislie Chalon, Allister Bartholomeusz, Ian Kelly, Tony Williams (1960 Olympics ) Desmond Templar, Rattan Mangharam, Randy Gray, Henry Perera, are names that come to mind. Other names who made significant contribution to the Club, were Tissa Ariyaratne, Gunaseelam Kanakratnam. Aubrey Van Cuylenberg (Water Polo, Ceylon Soccer goalkeeper), Langston and Fred Pereira.
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In 1955, an improved clubhouse was built on the beach just opposite the Station. The club was built on the proceeds from the carnival, sponsored by Mr Thaha, which ran for about two months on vacant property owned by the William Pedris Family, free of Lease..

The Club was moderately damaged by the recent Tsunami of December 2004 and the present committee of management is hoping to restore the Club and improve the facilities for members. Unfortunately due to changing situations the Club is not in the forefront of aquatics any more. The fierce competition and the “Spirit of Kinross” for which the Club was renowned in the period 1941 – 75, no longer exists, sadly.

Without Rodney Jonklaas former Assistant Superintendent of the Colombo Zoological Gardens at Allen Avenue, Dehiwela, original Member of Kinross Swimming & Life Saving Club, founder member of the Reef combers Spear fishing Club, the exploits of Arthur C Clarke & Mike Wilson would not reached the heights of underwater exploration in Ceylon. Aubrey Weinman was the Superintendent of the Zoo at that time which boasted to be one of the best in the world.

Other great world class divers/spear fishermen of that era were Langston Pereira, Gerard von Dincklage, Hilmi Khalid, Turab Jafferjee, Ron Bartholomeusz, Tissa Ariyaratne, Hugh Stewart, all of the KS&LSC, and Carlyle Ranasinghe, Authokarale. There is another UK contribution from Jimmy Buxton whose wife was the Norwegian beauty Gunilla Buxton,

Mention must be also made of the annual spear fishing competition between The K&SlSC and Reeefcombers for the Donavan Andree Challenge Cup.

Ralph Forbes (Chanko), was killed in a plane crash in about 1957- He was with the RCAF and was trained by the RAF in Cranwell UK.

Hilmi Khalid was an all time Kinross great and without doubt a world class pearfishermen. Hilmi Khalid lived at #5 Kollupitiya Lane, Colombo 3.

He has been raising and breeding guppies, including being engaged color research for the past 60 years. He currently has about 250 tanks with nothing but guppies. in a variety of colors and combination of colors you can ever imagine, He also holds the world class championship for the yellow Guppy for the past 10 years and is a Guppy Judge in the International Fancy Guppy Association. Guppies are his hobby.

Hilmi founded Am Mail Plus in 1983, an Advertising and Marketing Company, in Los Angeles, USA and is currently and having a ball in the evening of his life. In his spare time he is also trying to write about ‘Kinross - The beginnings', when the Club house was located at the bottom of Kinross Ave, and also about all the members that have gone through the club over the years. The beginning of Spearfishing, the hand made diving masks and spears that were used, diving without fins, and the many splendored times the boys spent together.

Allister Bartholomeusz has known all the guys mentioned above including Dr Arthur C. Clarke. Allister is also refereed to as “The Scribe” relative to all Aquatic Sport including Swimming, Waterpolo, Spear Fishing, and Surf Life Saving in the period 1949 – 1965l.

Please see following link for some valuable information on Mike Wilson:
http://lakdiva.org/coins/media/st_1997.03_mike.wilson.html

9 Comments:

Blogger Dominic Sansoni said...

Great to find your site - thank you. One small correction. I think the name of Rodney's friend was Mike Wilson, not Mike Smith.
Happy to send you a photograph of Mike (he died a few years ago) if you would like to see one.

My best wishes

Dominic

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi My name is Nina Thiedeman,Guy thiedeman is my Grandfather, & Huge Stewart my uncles,
intereesting to read about them,
thank you

Lincoln UK

Nina x

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rodney Jonklaas and I started spearfishing in 1942 in Kandy in the Mahavelli Gunga using masks we made out of truck tubes and spears out of wood. We were both in school at the time.The water was so muddy it was impossible to spear anything, but we tried hard.
Later on Rodney was living in Colombo and I was working there at a bank and used to go to the beach at colpetty and spearfish with Rodney on the reef. We caught Lobsters which I gave to my aunt as I would not eat them. I recall hitting the reef on two occasions when I got splines in the knee and stomach which i had to let come out by themselves.
There was a chap who used to swim with us called affectionately Nawya because of his speech impediment, and also one who must have been before his time because of his long hair. On one occasion I remember looking into a cave at the face of a Moray Eel. It must have been my lucky day as he let me by.
I left Ceylon in 1948 but still have memories of how we enjoyed the life of that era.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:23 AM  
Blogger masterdiver said...

another small correction. My name is Tony Buxton and my wife Gunilla was Swedish not Norwegian. I was born in Sri Lanka
Rodney Jonklaas was my teacher.
In 1959 I won the Ceylon Spearfishing
Champioships and in the same year came first in the UK team at the world Championships in Malta

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Rex said...

My name is Rex I. De Silva. I have been a diver since the mid 1950sand was a former Hony. Secretaty of the Reefcombers of Ceylon and later Spearfishing Captain of Kinross S. & L.S. Club. I have a wbpage on the "History of Diving in Sri Lanka" which recounts the exploits of Rodney Jonklaas, Tony Buxton, Langston Pereira and the other great diving pioneers. To visit the page click on http://sites.google.com/site/rexidesilva/sri-lanka---history-of-diving

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to read all the script,I am the nephew of Rodney Jonklaas,my mum Ena was his sister.I used to at a very young age go with my Uncle to Trinco,where we would net marine tropicals for export,that was his main business,used to stay at the Chinese guest house,and to pay for my room, my uncle and I would go to an estuary, and catch a load of lobsters and crab,and the Chinaman was delighted with this barter payment.They were magical days,and the world(sri-lanka) has lost one of the greatest,cleaverest,and kindest person one could ever have hoped to meet.He was also a brilliant Botanist,Artist,and Photographer.God rest his soul,we miss him terrilbly.Yames Heyneker

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Kristina Jansz said...

My name is Kristina Jansz. My father, Maurice Jansz, was a member of the Kinross Diving Club and throughout his life he spoke so often and fondly of this group. It was a very special time in his life. The beauty of the reef and the impact it had on him stayed with him his entire life. He passed away 6 years ago today and I'm quite sure can be found diving in a magnificent celestial reef somewhere :)

9:55 PM  
Blogger Isaac Stewart said...

Great i am isaac james stewart hugh stewart was my grandfather and (bongo) Guy Theiderman was my grand uncle

3:06 PM  

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