Generations of families have splashed in the three pools of the Olympic Swim Club, Clintonville's only swimming facility.

Generations of families have splashed in the three pools of the Olympic Swim Club, Clintonville's only swimming facility.

And little has changed at the private swim club since it was opened in 1938 by Orr and Richard Zimmerman, said Newt Jones, who bought the club six years ago from Richard, his grandfather.

The color of the main building has changed, and last year Jones took down some metal structures and replaced them with tables and colorful umbrellas. At one time, the 16-foot platform over the diving pool had a second deck, at 32 feet. The metal slide into the main pool also was replaced a few years ago with a safer plastic one.

But the concrete building maintains its bathhouse design, with a concession stand, men's and women's showers and second-story cabanas that are rented to high-school girls only.

"The cool thing about it is there really is no difference," Jones said. "You walk in here, and it feels like you never left."

As some one who spent summers around the swim club, Jones said he sees little differences in the atmosphere that's created summer after summer.

"When I was a kid, you would come here and, literally, be able to walk on kids' heads across the pool," Jones said. "We still have some days like that."

In addition to the atmosphere, much of the staff has remained constant at the pool over the years. The pool's general manager, a retired school teacher, has worked at the pool for more than 40 years.

Electricians, maintenance workers and others, also have long staffed the pool, Jones said.

Jones' mother and his aunts and uncles worked at the pool in their younger years, and when Jones' grandfather became too ill to maintain the pool, he moved to Columbus from his home in Dallas to take over.

"We have a lot of pride -- my family, the community -- in Olympic," Jones said. "It's an icon."

Jones said that pride is what leads him to maintain the character of the pool. His goal each year, he said, is to maintain the pool and make it look fresh and up-to-date while providing the same environment to pool patrons.

"When you come to Olympic, I think families feel safe that their kids are going to be watched, and it's a safe environment," Jones said. "It's a family environment; we're right in the neighborhood."

Jones said it's the surrounding neighborhood that has kept Olympic going for 70 years.

"The pool business is a really tough business in Columbus, Ohio; it's a weather related business," Jones said. "Without them, we wouldn't be able to continue doing this."

Jones said Clintonville residents always are sharing memories of their summers at the pool. Many of those people, Jones said, are now bringing their children or grandchildren to swim.

"It gives me a lot of pride," Jones said. "Those stories can just go on."

When Jones thinks of his childhood summers, when his family would travel back to Columbus from their home out west, he thinks of the full pools at Olympic and the Ohio State divers who would practice their sport from Olympic's high dive.

"We used to have Olympic divers here in the summer," Jones said. "It was pretty cool. I used to watch them when I was a kid."

And as Jones carries on the Olympic Swim Club, he's getting ready to pass the tradition onto his three preteen daughters, who are all asking for jobs at the pool this summer.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com