‘Swimming with the Spit’: Feminist Oral Sport History and the Process of ‘Sharing Authority’ with Twentieth-Century Female Swimming Champions in Sydney

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Abstract

This paper presents a case study from my research as part of a local and community history of the Spit Amateur Swimming Club, which began at the Spit Baths on the lower north shore of Sydney, Australia, in 1917. It reveals some of the tensions involved in writing feminist oral sport history and the ways in which shared authority can be negotiated between historians and sportswomen when writing a community sport history. Competitive male and female Spit swimmers were segregated into separate clubs, swam in different baths and at different times until the mid-1960s. The paper uses feminist oral histories of the Spit’s female swimming champions in order to trace the ways in which swimming and its historical meanings have changed for women in twentieth-century Australia. It reveals the lack of cultural scripts local female swimming stars could call upon to narrate their life stories and sporting success, the different ways in which they want their lives remembered and how historians might approach the complex construction of these histories.

LanguageEnglish
Pages860-879
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume33
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016

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Sports
twentieth century
history
historian
amateur
oral history
clubs
club
community
Authority
Sport History
Champions
lack
Clubs
History
Historian
Bath
Cultural Scripts
Life Story
Amateur

Keywords

  • community history
  • feminist oral history
  • public history
  • Swimming

Cite this

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