Fifty years on Ducks are still swimming

They came from everywhere - 250 of them.

Contingents of swimmers from such clubs as the Harbord Diggers, Austinmer Otters, Hornsby Frogs, Wellington Diggers and individual swimmers from clubs in Queensland, NSW including of course, a near-record turnout of members of the Dubbo Ducks.

So what was the reason for such a large assembly of citizens invading our city? To help the Dubbo Ducks celebrate their 50th birthday.

The Ducks, founded in 1959 and still going strong in 2009, hosted a marvellous weekend of festivities to mark this auspicious occasion.

And among our distinguished guests were two of the original members of the Ducks from 1959, former great Group 11 referee, John Tink and Jack Williams.

Jack had the honour of cutting the 50th birthday cake and at the same time providing a wonderful account of his years with this illustrious club.

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There were many highlights of the weekend, none better than the awarding of treasured life memberships to two wonderful club stalwarts, Mark Scullard and The Colonel himself, Patrick Mumford.

These two gentlemen had grins on their faces like a carpet snake in a chook yard when the announcements were made.

Mark was club captain for three successive years from 2006 to 2008 and as a co-author, contributed greatly to the publication of the Ducks 50th Anniversary book - “Ducks, Chooks and Foxes.”

His incredible research into every aspect of the Ducks history helped make the book the excellent success it undoubtedly is.

The Colonel needs no introduction.

Apart from filing his weekly column to the Daily Liberal for many years, Pat Mumford’s fundraising ability for the club is second-to-none with his efforts contributing greatly to the club’s coffers over a considerable amount of time.

Well done to these two popular members.

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Then there was the inspiring address given by our guest speaker, former Daily Liberal sports editor and editor, Gerry Collins, who is now the chief or ABC Sport in Queensland.

Gerry’s humourous reminders of his halcyon days with the Ducks from 1972 to 1984 brought back many memories of days gone by.

But it was his graphic description of the Australian 4 x 200 metres women’s relay team which defied the odds and won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics which had the gathering sitting on the edge of their seats.

In fact, many subscribed to the theory that they were more exhausted than Gerry when he finished his vivid oration.

Special certificates were also presented to Jeffrey Dawes and Judy Walsh, our first ever lady swimmer and 12 current members who each has recorded over 1000 swims with the club.

Family members of four of our deceased members who also had over 1000 swims were presented with certificates of acknowledgment of this wonderful achievement.

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The raft race down the Macquarie River on Saturday morning was as thrilling a spectacle as you would ever want to see.

Five seven-person crews, manned by the Ducks and members of our visiting clubs, fought out a tenacious battle, cheered on by a very large crowd of visitors and supporters.

It was a sight for sore eyes as the Austinmer Otters crew crossed the finishing line in a time of one hour, four minutes.

The Dubbo Ducks were second, followed by the two Harbord teams with a gallant Hornsby crew bringing up the rear.

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From the river to the duck pond on Sunday morning where over 100 diehards sought to clear their heads following the previous evening’s merry-making.

A nice, cool leisurely swim they thought.

Not so said the table fun-machine staff.

Let’s start, said they, with a 25-metre pipe-opener and after what seemed like a thousand heats, an incredible dead heat was the outcome.

Ducks captain Michael Twohill and Harbord’s Vicki Cogan swam exactly to their time to take home the spoils.

Only point 0.1 seconds away was junior Duck Greta Scullard.

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Next, the time-honoured Acka Gee Memorial Brace Relay competed for annually by the Ducks and Harbord Diggers.

The Cogan’s were in the thick of things again when Vicki’s other half, Mick teamed with Ducks Andrew Schloeffel to become the 2009 winners with a time of only 0.06 seconds away from their nominated time.

The second brace relay event went to our guest speaker from the previous night, Gerry Collins, teaming up with long time law enforcement officer Brian O’Leary, having his first swim for over 10 years.

Brian was heard to say afterwards that it will probably be another 10 before he has a repeat performance.

The traditional 10-person relay brought the swimming activities to a noticeable close with the Dubbo Ducks being successful with an amazing time of only 0.03 seconds from the overall time they nominated.

Harbord, Austinmer, Hornsby and Wellington fought out the minor placings but in the excitement of the local victory, the judge forgot to notify the table of the other place-getters.

Visitors were overwhelming in their praise of the Anniversary Celebrations much to the delight of the Ducks members, who can now be assured that all the hard work involved in bringing the program to fruition was well worth the effort.

Just a reminder that the 50th birthday anniversary book - “ Ducks, Chooks and Foxes” - commemorative mugs and polo shirts are available for sale from any club member.

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