Yesterday started out overcast, appropriate weather for the final day of Clintonville's venerable Olympic Swim Club. The private pool closed after 76 years of sunshine-filled memories. The Indianola Avenue pool has struggled financially for a decade as memberships dipped and expenses soared.
Yesterday started out overcast, appropriate weather for the final day of Clintonville’s venerable Olympic Swim Club.
The private pool closed after 76 years of sunshine-filled memories. The Indianola Avenue pool has struggled financially for a decade as memberships dipped and expenses soared.
The mood for some of the guests yesterday was as gray as the morning skies. But by afternoon, the sun had pierced the Labor Day clouds, and the pool also filled with the sounds of summer, of laughing and splashing.
The place was packed. Children filled the platform above the pool, ready to jump in.
Parking spots? Didn’t seem to be any by 1 p.m. People were parking on E. Piedmont and E. Dunedin roads nearby. Others walked from home.
Mike Callahan, in a tan baseball cap and shades, was hanging outside the fence with a friend, watching kids jump into the beckoning water on a muggy day.
Last time he was at the pool? “1968,” he guessed.
He lives in Worthington, not so far away, but never felt compelled to come back until yesterday, he said. He, like many others who visited Olympic one last time, grew up at the pool.
“The loss of the pool is not so bad,” said Callahan, 63. “It’s the loss of youth, not to get philosophical about it.”
Peggy Reeder spent her youth at the pool, too. In 1947, she met her husband-to-be at a pool dance. She was 16; he was 19.
She remembers sunbathing as a teenager on the deck outside the cabanas atop the swim-club’s main building. A black-and-white photo of a youthful Reeder in a lifeguard’s chair graced the wall of the building yesterday.
“This was summer,” she said.
Reeder is 83 now. She still lives in Clintonville. She has taught swimming to children at the pool for 45 years — “the little ones, 8 and under,” she said.
Asked whether she thought she would stay until the 6 p.m. closing time yesterday, she paused before saying, “I don’t think I can do that.” Too hard, she said.
Wearing a blue Olympic Swim and Dive Team T-shirt, Reeder posed near the pool’s edge with Michelle Poirier, a lifeguard for eight years in the 1990s. Poirier’s husband, Ed Potokar, took the photo on his phone.
“Very emotional today,” said Potokar, 53.
“It’s tough, really tough,” said Poirier, 38. “This is a piece of our lives.”
They had wanted the same for their 2-year-old son, Jude, to make it part of his summer childhood memories.
The pool closed amid neighborhood controversy. A new apartment building, the Olympic, with ground-level retail, professional and restaurant space, is planned for the site. Some neighbors see it as too big for the area and say there’s not enough parking.
“When the pool wasn’t going to be a viable option anymore, I believed a mixed-use community there would be a great fit,” Olympic owner April Zimmerman Katz said last week.
The big crowd yesterday told Kristen Marek that Clintonville can support a pool, that it needs a pool.
But the crowd also frustrated her.
“Where have all these people been all this time?” said Marek, 47, a swim-club member for 20 years, whose son and two daughters also were regulars at the pool.
The pool opened at noon. By 4:15 p.m., 300 day passes had been sold.
“One last swim, one last jump off the platform,” said general manager Bill Kilkenny, 67, who spent 55 summers at the pool.
A sign outside read, “Thank U Loyal Members.”