The “old” pool in Quebec Road was opened in 1974 and had been a partnership venture between Mitford and Launditch Rural District Council, East Dereham Urban District Council, Norfolk County Council and a body called the Swimming Pool Association. This Association acted as ‘friends of the pool’ and was composed of local enthusiasts who had a passionate interest in competitive swimming. Apart from acting as a lobby and pressure group, they raised money which funded the original tables and chairs and other furniture in the ‘gold fish bowl’ and equipment such as lane ropes and starting blocks for the pool.
The Dereham Swimming Pool Association was the embryo from which the Dereham and District ASC, (Dereham Otters) developed and was founded in 1975. The Chairman of the Association was Adam “Tiny” Livingstone, who worked at RAF Swanton Morley and became the first Chairman and Chief Coach of the Otters.
Tiny had immense drive and stature and considerable experience in both coaching and officiating with the ASA. He built a team around him and used his expertise to train others. In those days Swanton Morley was an excellent recruiting ground for coaches, officials and indeed some swimmers. It was not uncommon for RAF personnel with an interest in competitive swimming to be stationed there without realising that their appointment had been manipulated to fill a vital gap in the Otters’ coaching team. The coaching reins were soon handed over to Charlie Gravett and Alan Hancock, who both joined the club in this way.
The training times for the club were initially only on Mondays and Wednesday evenings for an hour and a half. The learner pool was used for young improvers, under the tutelage of Barbara Payze and then later under Beryl Bowles, both of whom the youngsters adored.
The only significant addition to training times for many years was made when pool time was hired early on a Sunday morning to allow a privileged opportunity to the A Squad to train an extra hour a week. This was not always appreciated and before long a Masters Group, with greater mental resolve was establishing itself at this early hour.
The club has always been competitive but, apart from County events, galas in the early years were limited to the Wells and District League and the Dereham and Fakenham Summer League.
The Otters celebrated its 40th anniversary in June 2015.