College pupils old and new make a splash to celebrate 150th anniversary

The LADIES’ COLLEGE dived into its 150th year celebrations with a swim at the newly-refurbished La Vallette bathing pools.

The evening event also resurrected a 100-year-old tradition – an aquatic egg-and-spoon race.

Archives from the college show that swimming was part of the curriculum from as early as 1898 – 14 years before women were allowed to swim in the Olympics. Former students used La Vallette swimming pools for lessons and competition and Tuesday’s event saw the revival of the egg-and-spoon relay race that was first held in 1911 when other events included the girls racing across the pools in large tubs.

The event saw students swimming in their house teams to raise funds for Vive La Vallette, the charity established in 2019 to reinvigorate the facilities at the historic bathing pools.

Principal Daniele Harford-Fox was delighted with how the evening unfolded.

‘It was an amazing event,’ she said.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31286529)

‘To have pupils from pre-war to the current primary school all in the water together was fantastic. There was such a connection between the generations. It was a beautiful way to start our anniversary – what more fitting way could we capture the spirit of the last 150 years than the willingness to dive into bracing and sometimes cold water, and that is what, through the history of The Ladies’ College, generations of women have done before them.’

The former students invited to take part in a series of relays for their former houses, included 82-year-old alumna Judith Le Tissier.

She was the school’s swimming captain in 1957 and represented the college and the island in breaststroke and butterfly.

‘Age is only a number,’ she said.

Alumnae known as 'Old Girls' (ex-students of The Ladies' College) along with principal Daniele Harford-Fox (left) and organiser of the event and current Head of Physical Education Helen Le Maitre. (31286539)

‘Swimming, and all sports, were so important during my time at The Ladies’ College.’

Head of PE at the college, Helen Le Maitre, is also an alumna of the college and former international swimmer.

‘I am so excited to bring this event to life with the current students,’ she said.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31286525)

‘Swimming continues to be an integral part of our PE curriculum, and many of our students continue to compete at a high level or simply enjoy swimming as part of their island life.’

Upper Sixth student Ailish Rabey, who was recently part of the Commonwealth Games team, said: ‘The Guernsey community has a unique connection to the sea and swimming so to mark the anniversary celebration with this event makes it even more special.’

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