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Men's North Beach Surf Life Saving Club march-past swimsuit

Date: 1950-1965
Overall: 710 x 352 mm, 0.2 kg
Clothing size: 18
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Surf Life Saving Australia
Object Name: Swimsuit
Object No: 00005937
Place Manufactured:Perth

User Terms

    This march-past competition swimsuit was worn by members of Perth's North Beach Surf Life Saving Club at surf carnivals between 1950 and 1965. The club was part of the Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia. The one piece racerback swimsuit is made from orange and maroon wool, and features a large embroidered North Beach S.L.S.C club badge at the centre of the chest featuring a flying seagull framed by a red lifebuoy.
    SignificanceThis is a rare example of a march-past design worn by members of the North Beach Surf Life Saving Club at surf carnivals between 1950 and 1965 in Western Australia.
    HistoryBy using the vintage march-past one piece swimsuit well into the second half of the twentieth century, the surf life saving movement perpetuated the classic 1930s image of the lifesaver as the bronzed hero of the Australian beach. The march-past swimsuit also came to represent the pageantry and tradition of the life saving movement.

    The earliest surf carnivals, originally called gymkhanas, were held at Manly, Bondi and North Steyne in New South Wales in 1908 as fund raisers for the Royal Life Saving Society. Surf Life Saving clubs formed around Australia from 1907 onwards, with carnivals held in the summer months as a way to test the skills of members and maintain their fitness for patrol and rescue work.

    Carnivals usually opened with the ceremonial march-past parade of competing teams wearing swimsuits in club colours marching with military precision while carrying club pennants and surf reels. Carnival events included surf races, alarm reel (belt race), surf relay (surf teams), rescue and resuscitation, as well as novelty events such as tug-of-war, pillow fights, catching the greasy pig, chariot and sack races.

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