Swimming’s early history at Western was noticeably hindered by a lack of proper pool facilities on campus. 1931 saw the organization of Western’s first swim team, though they were forced to practise at the London YMCA. This situation continued for almost twenty years until the opening of the Spencer Memorial Pool on campus in the newly constructed Thames Hall in 1950. A lack of proper facilities, however, did not stop the swim team from performing well. In the 1934-35 season, the Mustangs won second place in intercollegiate tournament play. The 1938-39 season saw an improvement with Western’s swim team winning its first ever intercollegiate championship.
The addition of the campus pool in 1950 cemented swimming’s place within the Western sport tradition and directly stimulated the sport’s continued improvement. For example, a new head coach, Earle Zeigler, was appointed in the 1949-50 season, and the following year Western hosted the senior intercollegiate swimming championships for the first time.
Western’s swim teams continued to improve throughout the 1950s. Several notable swimmers joined the team including Bob Easun and Bob Eynon.
Western’s big break, however, arrived in the 1959-60 season. The addition of Pete Fowler to Western’s swimming program was a turning point in intercollegiate play. With Fowler’s help, relay teams in both the 400 yard freestyle and 400 yard medley set new Canadian records in the 1959-60 season. Fowler continued to compete competitively with the Mustangs for eight years and in that time he won thirteen Ontario-Quebec Athletic Association (O-QAA) gold medals.
Everyone had a place on the Mustang swimming team; you didn’t necessarily need to be the fastest swimmer to be an integral part of competitive play. Anthony Little, for example, had an unique role as a false starter in the early 1960s. In order to buy time to allow fellow teammate Glen Davis to catch his breath, Little would purposefully false start the race and take his time getting out of the water. Davis, who would have just raced three events prior, would use these extra few moments to catch his breath and prepare for the race ahead.
The Mustang Mermen continued with strong competitive play throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Bob Eynon, a former Western swimmer, took over coaching duties in the early 1960s and in 1976 was witness to one of the best seasons in Western’s swimming history. By the end of the season, the Mustangs had an 11-1 record and finished second in the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union championships.
Swimming has continued to thrive at Western, with notable players such as Brad Creelman joining the team in the early 1990s.