SAIL – the Swim Association Invitational League – began in 1964 with the first shot of the starting gun at a swim meet between Stone Lake, McCarter, Botany Woods, and Chetsu. This first meet, which including nearly 300 swimmers, was held under the auspices of the Greenville Parent-Youth Association (PYA).
Willard Metcalf is credited with starting SAIL. In 1964 he was PYA’s recreation chairmain and a former collegiate swimmer. By 1967 ten neighborhood pools were participating in the PYA summer swim meets – Botany Woods, Croftstone, Gower Estates, Greenville County Club, McCarter, McForest, Northside Gardens, Stone Lake, Wade Hampton Gardens, and Wellington Green. SAIL was created as its own entity at a meeting in September 1967. Mr. Metcalf chaired the meeting that included Bruce Buchanan, Dotty Hartnett, Jack Wightman, Betty Blanck, Gloria Banks, Ben Baggott, Bruce Parsons, and Bill Sondley.
According to Mr. Metcalf, four pools were involved in 1964, ten pools in 1967, 21 in 1975 and 26 in 1984. Today 37 pools participate with approximately 4,500 swimmers involving more than 1,700 families. The teams were organized in three divisions (red, white, and blue) in the early 70’s, with a fourth division (green) created in 1976. The gold division was added in 1982 followed by the purple in 1992.
Jane Callaway, the SAIL first president, wrote the league’s first official bylaws. The objective was to increase order and efficiency while ensuring standardized rules, officiating, and record-keeping.
What is "Bloody Sunday"?
During SAIL’s first three decades, the record-keeping was done entirely by hand, utilizing time cards. Each swimmer had a card that followed them thoughout a meet, for recording race results. After the divisional meets, these cards were sorted by age group and time to determine who was eligible for Championship/Classic and how to seed the heats. From early Sunday morning to well past dark over 50 volunteers sorted, stacked, and laid out cards on seeding grids – and then everything had to be typed, rushed to the printer, and delivered to the coaches by Monday morning.