End of An Era: Clintonvilles Olympic Swim Club Closes For Good
Yesterdays Labor Day holiday marked the unofficial end of summer. It also marked the end of an era in Clintonville. For 76 years neighbors have cooled off at the Olympic Swim Club. But now its closed for good. And generations of Clintonville residents are saddened by the shutdown. As a handful of adults swam laps in the Olympic-size swimming pool last week, children of all ages leapt into the 16-foot-deep water of the dive well nearby. We love it. Its really been a big part of our lives for a long time, said Karen Staley. Karen Staley and her husband Paul have brought their children to the club since they were toddlers. Were really going to miss our diving well because its very unique. Weve got the 5-meter board, two 3-meter boards and two 1-meter boards in a 16-foot diving well, Staley said The 5-meter platform stands about 17 feet above the water. Paul Staley says the jump is irresistible. Its exhilarating. Its the best. Now that the pool is not going to be here next year, which is very sad for all of us, I try to go off of it every time were here, Paul Staley said. Those exhilarating jumps ended yesterday when the Olympic Swim Club shut down for good. The club, which sits on Indianola Avenue just north of North Broadway, operated between Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to owner Newt Jones, attendance began dwindling in the late 1990s. The dynamics of the neighborhood has changed and more kids are working these days and theyve got the internet and theyre staying inside. Theyre not going outside so I think thats been the biggest reason for the changes at Olympic over the past 15 years, Jones said.
The pools design was influenced by the one used in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was built in 1938 and had been operated by Newt Jones family for 76 years. Asked why the club was closing, Jones said the decision was made entirely for economic reasons. The swim club has not been a profitable business for well over 15 years and so if youre not making any money then it doesnt make sense to stay open, Jones said. Jones says that the club was, in years past, the place to gather for the Clintonville community. Thats never changed for Karen Staley who said the clubs members were like her second family. Dagmar Wolcott, who swam at Olympic for 42 years, says its the community vibe that shell remember. Gretchen Cochrane put it this way: Theres a whole group of women that lead very different lives in the winter and we see each other almost every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day and then maybe not at all until the following year and we just pick up where we left off. Its summer friends, Cochrane said. Not only is there sadness; some swim club members are angry that theyre losing an important gathering spot in Clintonville. The closing spurred Dagmar Wolcott to take a more active role. Making posters, doing flyers from street to street, going to the area meetings and theres going to be some more serious ones in September that will talk about zoning and other things that really werent addressed at former meetings, Wolcott said. The Olympic Swim Club family is breaking up. Some members have already determined which of a half-dozen area pools theyll frequent once its outdoor swim time again. Owner Newt Jones describes the closing of the club for him as bittersweet. People think that my family and I dont have any heart and that were just tearing this away from the community and thats just the opposite, Jones said. Jones says that in place of the swim club there will be a mix of residential, retail and restaurant offerings that he believes will help transform that section of Clintonville. Its going to be a beautiful project and its only going to enhance the dreary Indianola Avenue. I think its going to be the rebirth of Indianola Avenue, Jones said.