The History of the EISM
The Edinburgh International Swim Meet was reintroduced to the international swimming calendar in 2015 by SASA East District and its partner, the University of Edinburgh, after a three year hiatus.
In the past three years it has attracted leading swimmers from across Europe and the US including the fastest man in water, US Olympic champion Anthony Ervin, UK world record holder Adam Peaty and a host of other famous names; Natalie Coughlin, Michael Jamieson, Jazz Carlin, Siobhan Marie O’Connor, Danish stars Mie Nielsen, Pernille Blume, Rikke Pedersen and Viktor Bromer and double Olympic champions the Netherland's Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte.
Learn more about the events history below.
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History of the EISM
Edinburgh has been synonymous with swimming for as long as anyone can remember. The city council, under the visionary leadership of the then Lord Provost, Sir Herbert Brechin, commissioned the building of the Royal Commonwealth Pool in 1966 with the aim of this facility, along with Meadowbank, being the flagship venues for the 1970 Commonwealth Games destined for Edinburgh. Opened in time for the Games at a cost of £3.84m, the futuristic building with its 50m pool, outstanding diving area, 2000 seats, and brightly lit atmosphere was the envy of the UK. The 1970 Games were regarded as one of the most successful in its history and this, together with a truly modern swimming facility, resulted in Edinburgh being chosen once again to host the Games in 1986.
The city already had a strong foundation of swimming clubs, the Warrender Baths Club being in its ascendancy at the time, providing no fewer than ten swimmers for the Scotland team at the 1970 Games. The pool provided an excellent 50m training facility for the many clubs throughout the city.
The “Commie” as it was affectionately known quickly became a part of Edinburgh life. An exhausting swim up and down its 50m length, a terrifying slide down the Stingray flume emerging at the bottom often with less swimwear than when at the top, the warming waters of the baby pool, teeth chattering as an icy wind swept through the changing rooms, and a chippie from Bratisanni’s on the way home, all made for a great day out.
But the council wanted the pool to be used for more than club training and a good day out for the citizens of Edinburgh. And so the Edinburgh International swimming competition was born.
Travel in this era was not as cheap and plentiful as it is today, and it was realised that incentives would have to be given to attract swimmers of the calibre that the city had set its sights on. And so a grant of £30,000 was given by the council to stage the event and put on a first-class show helped by appearance and prize money. Wally Lord, the colourful character of swimming in Edinburgh at the time, always organised an event that filled the seating to capacity. Inevitably, however, spending cut-backs and greater pressure on local resources resulted in the grant being continually cut back until the event could no longer be supported.
The City of Edinburgh Swimming scheme emerged in the late 1990’s as the premier training programme in Edinburgh. CES, as it was known, resurrected the Edinburgh Age Group International in 1999 with a one-day event to see if there was a place or demand for such a competition again. The events were restricted to 100m and 200m with the popular skins event in the 50m freestyle. The meet quickly grew in popularity and by 2003 international teams were starting to appear, this time from Iceland and Ireland. By 2008 the Edinburgh International had become a three-day event and, at the request of Scottish Swimming, incorporated the Celtic Tri-Nations. However, the closing of the Commie in 2009 for refurbishment meant that the event was once again suspended in Edinburgh and went “On Tour” to Glasgow for a couple of years. It did not run again in Edinburgh after this until 2015 when the pool re-opened after its use as a diving venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The Edinburgh International Swim Meet was reintroduced to the international swimming calendar in 2015 by SASA East District and its partner, the University of Edinburgh, after a four year hiatus.
In the past two years it has attracted leading swimmers from across Europe and the US including the fastest man in water, US Olympic champion Anthony Ervin, UK world record holder Adam Peaty and a host of other famous names; Natalie Coughlin, Michael Jamieson, Jazz Carlin, Siobhan Marie O’Connor, Danish champions Mie Nielsen and Viktor Bromer and double Olympic champions the Netherland's Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte.