Monday, January 18, 2021

Bill Black

Over the weekend we were very saddened to hear of the passing of former SASA President and Life Member, Bill Black. It is no understatement to suggest that Bill Black was Scottish Swimming and Scottish Swimming owes a great deal to Bill Black.

William ‘Bill’ Black was born in September 1933. He was a member of Clydebank ASC for most of his ‘aquatics’ life, where he was a competitive swimmer, a swimming teacher, a coach and where he also played water polo. His involvement in the Club saw him attend training courses for coaches and he soon became the Club delegate to the West District.

From Club Delegate he went onto serve as West District Secretary before becoming Secretary of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association (SASA) and it was during this time that he started representing Scotland at the annual LEN Conferences.

For the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, Bill was Team Scotland’s swimming team manager. It was around this time that his work was also recognised as a Member of GB’s Swimming Committee.

By the time of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, Bill was the GB delegate to the FINA Congress and it was at this time, that Bill, together with his wife Mary, compiled the FINA operating manual for synchronised swimming, which was used from 1984-1996.

Around the mid-1980’s, Bill was awarded the FINA silver medal for services to the sport and for the Commonwealth Games’ second visit to Edinburgh in 1986, Bill was appointed Director of Aquatics.

In 1996, Bill held the chain of office as President of SASA and it was Bill who launched SplashNews, the quarterly magazine of the Association, where as well as the editorial content, he could tap into one of his other passions, photography. Bill was a regular on the pool deck at all events for all disciplines and he became the ‘official' photographer at swimming events, including the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006. Capturing the look on a young Caitlin McClatchy’s face as she realised she’d won the first gold of the first event, beating the home favourite, Bill was in his element, and much to his delight, Scotland had many more such moments of celebration during those Games.

Hard to believe that Bill’s passion and tireless work for all things aquatics was as a volunteer. In terms of his professional career, he was a student at Glasgow School of Art, an art teacher at a number of schools in Clydebank and Glasgow and subsequently Head of Art and Graphic Design at Clydebank Technical College. He was also a commercial artist at DC Thompson in Dundee, where, as a young man, regularly took part in cross-Tay swims, to add to his list of disciplines.

After he retired, he was also a volunteer with the Youth Service, Scottish Badminton, a member of Drymen Art Club and was still producing the journal of the Clydebuilt Association Friends of the Glenlee.

Bill’s dedication to the sport has made a huge impact the world over and he will be greatly missed. He was a warm, kind and true gentleman, devoted to his loving wife Mary, and hugely proud of his son Kenneth. Our love and thoughts are with them at this sad time.

Additional Note:

Mary and Kenneth have been overwhelmed by the messages they have received since Bill's passing and wanted everyone to know how much they appreciate everyone's kind words. Because of a computer virus they are currently having trouble accessing emails, but once they've unlocked the computer, they will be in touch with those who have sent messages.

In the meantime please enjoy the lovely words Mary herself wrote about Bill.

Mary tribute to Bill