THURROCK’S only swimming club has turned 50.

The club, based out of Blackshots leisure centre, was formed in 1963 when founder Doug Smith decided the borough needed a swimming club.

Since then, Thurrock Swimming Club has gone from strength to strength and celebrated reaching the half-century landmark with a big anniversary dinner at the Orsett Hall hotel.

A committee was formed after Mr Smith called a meeting on April 4, which saw 70 people enrol.

By the end of the following year, the club had more than 1,000 members, despite a fire at Blackshots in January 1964 hampering the establishment of the club.

Today, there are around 550 members, with a number of talented young swimmers in the learn to swim programme, academies and squads among them.

Over the years, the club has attended international training camps and recently squads have travelled to Lignano in Italy and Colonia St Jordi in Majorca.

In 2009, the club had 17 national qualifiers and just this year, Thurrock came sixth in the Essex County Championships, an improvement of three years on 2012.

Club secretary Hazel Day said: “We are the only swimming club in Thurrock and we serve everybody, from youngsters to as old as you want.

“We’ve got the whole lot and can cater for everyone. We aren’t just competitive. Our club night is every Friday evening and starts at 6pm and we have the whole centre.”