Lyn Kaesler

I came to the Henley club from Ethelton Amateur Swimming Club in 1978/79. At that time I was 17 years of age and had been swimming competitively for about 9-10 years. I had never touched a water polo ball but was fed up with squad training that didn’t fit around being employed. At Ethelton a water polo team existed for the boys, but there weren’t enough girls interested in switching from swimming and getting together a team, so we, my sister Deb Schollar and I headed down to Henley.

My recollections of the Henley Pool as a swimmer were cold and bitter nights at interclub when the waves from the ocean splashed onto the rocks on the ocean side of the pool. The wooden plank walkways on that side of the pool had gaps wide enough in them to see the water below and the tarpaulin over fence wire on that side of the pool offered little protection from the wind. I remember the change rooms being up a walkway and in a dark cold, cement building. I also recall the clubhouse and the recorder’s table that were situated downstairs below the level of the pool. I always found the pool to be dark and unwelcoming as a swimmer as you could not see the bottom and the officials were always scooping weed out of the deep end. I reckon I always swam faster there as fear drove me to get to the end and get out as quick as possible. I was convinced that there was fish and small sharks in the pool and I couldn’t get out quick enough.

However, as a polo player and swimmer for the Henley club I spent some of my happiest and memorable times in Water Polo and made some enduring friendships. I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the Bayne/Chartier families who took me on as a raw and untalented Polo player and were instrumental in developing me to a standard where I made a National Team from a State Team not known for great numbers of national representatives.

From the outset I came to realise that Polo at Henley bred success and bred champions. I was lucky enough to live down the road at Semaphore Park and walk through the gates where champions the likes of Joanne Courtney (Martin), Chris Wybrow, Lynn Martin, Frank Lindsay, Susie Smith, Andrew Lanyon, David Martin, Jo Chartier and Marg Smith had been produced. I knew I was in good hands with all the ‘after training’ sessions that Peter Bayne put in to develop my polo skills and continued to do until the very day I left South Australia and moved to New South Wales. Without his belief in me and continual support I could not have reached the levels I did. Another fond memory was of my training sessions at Bradford Industries pool after making the National team and not being able to find a pool to train in. My training schedule was intense and with the help of Gerry Ryan, Peter Bayne, Jo Chartier, Deb Schollar, Garry Schollar, Paul Hadfield, Mandy Chartier and others who took turns in pacing me up the pool, I was able to keep up some level of fitness and preparedness for tournaments and National commitments ahead of me. Then there were the sessions in the outdoor pool at Fort Largs Police Academy with my dad, a watch and a dream of being the best I could be. I will also never forget the support given by club officials like Mac and Anne Chartier, Kevin Fitzgerald, Peter Graham and Peter Smith who kept the pool running and supported fundraising efforts for the swimming and polo parts of the club. 

There are four other memories that stick in my mind and they are mentioned in no particular order:

  1. Kiwi Trevor (Allen) – he coached the women for awhile and had a unique way of ensuring that we improved our accuracy with shooting. Apart from placing cans in the top corners of the goals, giving us something to aim at, he also rewarded a hit on the can with a green or red frog being thrown into the water

  2. Goalie – I remember playing back-up goal keeper to Marg Smith and training with the Henley U18 boys at the Henley pool. At that time Chris Wybrow (skis) was hitting the height of his brilliance and had a bounce shot to die for. I remember being in goals as ‘skis’ swam up and let a shot go. I felt very good about getting a tip on it but as a result the ball deflected into the side wood and then back into my head. The shot was so hard that the impact of the ball hitting my head just about knocked me out. I remember getting dragged from the pool and Peter getting an ice-cream from the canteen to put on my head and the big red ‘ball-brand’ on the side of my face........thanks Skis!!! It was very soon after this that Peter turned me into a Centre Forward and my career took off.

  3. Not all serious – On another occasion I remember the Henley Men and Women training at the pool and then setting up a game of “pole joust / pillow bash” across the deep end of the pool. A metal pole was set above the water balanced on one of the starting blocks and the seats on the side of the pool. Combatants edged out over the water with pillow in one hand and the other hand tucked behind their back. The aim being to knock the other person from the pole without falling into the water yourself. I remember facing off against Peter (Bayne) and getting in a few good hits on him and receiving a few before I finally knocked him into the water. He still reckons that I cheated because I had my feet dangling in the water and therefore had better balance on the pole...........I reckon it was just good timing and a well- aimed hit.......better luck next time PB.

  4. Swimathon – I can’t remember why we were doing it but just remember swimming through the night and into the wee hours of the morning and camping out overnight at the Henley Pool in sleeping bags. That was the first and the last 24 hour swimathon that I ever want to know about!! 

Mostly the memories of Henley & Grange are of warm Sunday mornings at club swimming carnivals with Peter Graham announcing and Peter Smith calling the handicap start times behind the swimmers, training at the pool on warm afternoons after work, the fabulous families at Henley (Sturm’s, Molloy’s, Fanning’s, Hanson’s and many others), team BBQ’s at the Chartier’s and Bayne’s homes and pleasant rivalries with the Life Savers across the fence next door. I remember one such rivalry being responsible for me swimming in my ONE and ONLY Henley to Grange Long Swim, 2kms between the jetties in the open ocean. For those who know me, you will know what an accomplishment that was as I did and still do hold an absolute terror of deep ocean water and the great white sharks that cruise the South Australian coastline. However, I was goaded into the challenge by Alistair Smail who bet me $100 that a “pool-swimmer” like me would not take on the challenge of the ocean. The bet was made on a clear sunny day with a flat ocean, sandbars reducing the depth at the end of the Henley jetty and visibility as clear as glass. I took the bet and fronted up on race day to wild winds, overcast conditions, murky water and a swell that I just didn’t want to know about. I think Ali felt bad about the bet and got out into the water on a ski and followed me for most of the race. Sheer terror made me swim faster than I ever thought possible and I will always remember the great relief, exhaustion and pleasure of reaching the Grange jetty in one piece, and to my amazement, FIRST. Even as I exited the ramp on the jetty I could not believe my good luck and fortune. It is one for my bucket list and not one I have to repeat........EVER

PB was the architect of most of my success and the directions that I took in Water Polo. In leaving South Australia he helped me to find a home in NSW and an introduction to Pat and Bill Jones, who inevitably became my “Sydney Mum and Dad”. It was a tearful and difficult move, but one at the time I don’t regret making. My parting gift from Henley was a lovely pair of diamond studs that to this day I still have. Thanks to Gerry Ryan, they were mounted into a lovely ring so that I could wear them always and to this day they remind me of all of the good times and good friends from the Henley and Grange club. 

In 1985 I moved to Sydney and stayed with the Jones family. Initially I played for Western Suburbs for a season before transferring to Port Hacking. I played 8 years first grade with Port Hacking before taking over as Player / Coach of St George 1st grade team. I coached that team to its first ever grand final win for the winter season in 1994. During this time I also represented NSW in the Open State Team from 1985 to 1989 (Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Hobart) In that 5 years the team won the National title 3 times and were silver medallists on two occasions. After 1994 I quit playing polo for a couple of years when I had my first baby in 1995.

When I returned to polo it was with the Cronulla club and I played a couple of seasons in 2nd and 3rd grade before ‘retiring’ to 4th grade ladies competition. The Cronulla 4th grade have won about 10 grand-finals and also have gold medals at Masters competitions in Canberra (1997), Newcastle, Adelaide (2005) and International Masters in Sydney (2010). 

Premierships with Henley:

  • 8 in total: 78/79, 79/80, 80/81, 81/82, 82/83, 83/84, 89/90, 90/91

  • 7x Best & Fairest with Henley: 1979 - 1984, 1990/91

  • 3x Best & Fairest with SAAWPA: 1979/80, 1982, 1984

  • State Teams: U18 1978 – Melbourne, Opens 1979 – 1984 (Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane)

  • Australian Team: 1981 (Brisbane – FINA Cup - 3rd) & 1982 (Ecuador, South America – World Championships – 2nd) in all I played 13 times for Australian at international level.

Peter Bayne's Note:

Lyn has forged a successful career in the New South Wales Police Force rising to the level of Inspector and has three children and still gets in for a game albeit in 4th Grade.