Dynamic and autocratic, Roland St Clair was a central figure in early swimming administration in New Zealand. In the early 1880s, while employed in clerical work at Wellington shipping firms McMeekan, Blackwood and Co. and W. G. Turnbull and Co., he was keenly involved in swimming, and was deputy captain of the Wellington Rowing Club. He moved to Auckland in 1886 to be near family, and took up a job as accountant at T. H. Hall and Co., wholesale merchants. In 1888 he was elected secretary of the new Auckland Swimming Club. The following year he convened a meeting of representatives to form a national association, and the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association was formally constituted on 4 January 1890. St Clair tended to act by himself and seek committee endorsement later. When, in 1896, southern clubs successfully pressed for the association headquarters to be moved to Christchurch, he led resistance and formed a breakaway national organisation in Auckland in 1898. The standoff between the groups was resolved in 1904.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Roland William Saint-Clair, The Saint-Clairs of the Isles. Auckland: H. Brett, 1898, p. 162 (B-K-1007-162)
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