Barry Eldridge swim school commemorated with a short film

A film commemorating the legacy of Barry Eldridge and the Eldridge swimming school was named as a piece of Redland history at its launch at Cleveland High School on August 8.

Entitled A Life in Water, the film is a tribute to Mr Eldridge, now aged 80, who started the school at its Woodlands Drive, Thornlands site in 1974 and who has taught thousands to swim there.

Mr Eldridge said when he started swimming there was no such thing as butterfly and tumble turns hadn’t been invented.

Speaking on the documentary are Olympic swimmers Ashley Callus and Lara Korhammer (whose daughter is being taught at the school) as well as swim coach and friend Laurie Lawrence and Redland swim coach Nick Pedrazzina.

The film was the brainchild of retired film teacher Wayne Cass who worked on the project with former Cleveland High School student and now film school graduate Daniel Helmsted.

Mr Cass said he recalled Mr Eldridge teaching physical education to students at Redland Bay, Mount Cotton and Cleveland at the Cleveland school pool and at a pool at a caravan park at Victoria Point. Mr Eldridge said that the caravan pool was now under the carpark at Bunnings, Victoria Point.

“One day, the ground will be excavated so that future generations can see how the ancients taught children how to swim,” Mr Eldridge said.

Mr Cass, who swims regularly at the pool to maintain fitness and health, said he felt that heritage would be lost if the history of the swim school was not recorded. 

Mr Eldridge started his swim school with a 12.5m pool, which was later updated to a 20m L-shaped pool with a toddler shelf. There he has taught scuba diving and swimming joined by his wife Lesley and daughter Janet.

Mr Lawrence said Mr Eldridge’s life had been a love affair with water.

“He has taught all ages and cultures and clearly enjoys being in the water. He’s been telling me for years that this builds happiness, health and achieves life goals. A university study recently came up with the same findings that swimming makes people coordinated, smarter and better socially,” Mr Lawrence said.

Some of his students were present at the launch including Cr Julie Talty who learned to swim there at age eight.

“He has preserved the lives of so many children, among them my own and children of my friends,” Cr Talty said.

Mr Eldridge recalled the days when he could recognise children from Redland Bay by their permanently red feet.

“Children have taught me more than I’ve taught them,” he said.

Copies of the film can be purchased for $33 through the swim school.  The school has been put on the market.