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Women's Neptunes Ladies' Life Saving Club swimsuit

Date: 1930-1933
Overall: 665 x 375 mm, 0.2 kg
Display Dimensions: 665 x 375 mm
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Neptunes Royal Life Saving Club
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00018488
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    This women's one piece swimsuit was made in Australia by Speedo for the Neptune's Ladies' Surf Life Saving Club. The club colours of maroon and cream have been used in the machine knitted woollen fabric which has been sewn together to form a distinctive diamond pattern. The club swimsuit has a Racerback, a full skirt with the Speedo 'arrow' logo and maroon pantaloons. The embroidered cloth club badge used by the Neptunes Ladies' Life Saving Club has been sewn onto the front of the swimsuit.
    SignificanceThis is a rare example of a march-past swimsuit made for, and worn by, a female lifesaver. As money was often short, members of the Neptunes Ladies' Life Saving Club would use their swimsuits for general swimming as well as for competitions.
    HistoryThe Neptunes Ladies' Life Saving Club, located on Queensland's Gold Coast, was the state's first women's lifesaving club. Formed at the Ithaca Baths near Tallebudgera Beach in 1928, the club was created as part of a strategy to attract more women into the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS).

    From the early 1920s women began joining the RLSS branches along the southern Queensland coast. As the dominant lifesaving authority in Queensland from 1906 until 1930 the RLSS welcomed women's involvement in carnivals, march-pasts, learned and applied resuscitation, and where need be, rescues.

    When the Surf Live Saving Association Australia (SLSAA) extended its influence from NSW in the 1930s it gained jurisdiction over Queensland' surf beaches and women became marginalised.

    Arguing that women were not strong enough to operate the equipment or swim in heavy surf, the SLSAA banned them from qualifying for the surf bronze medallion and therefore from patrolling.

    Despite this, many women worked behind the scenes or were valuable fundraisers. Others formed ladies' only surf clubs and competed in carnivals, especially in rural areas where clubs were less concerned with the rules and more focused on their immediate community.

    The Surf Life Saving Association finally admitted women as full members in 1980. Since then, the number of active surf lifesavers has almost doubled.

    The Neptunes, now known as the Neptunes Royal Life Saving Club, still patrol Tallebudgera Beach from the opening of the season in October until its end in April.

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