Worthington News

After 60 years, Worthington Pools still a splashing success

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Veteran community members have been floating down memory lane this summer, recalling the early days of the Worthington Pools as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

"We've been communicating with some of the old members," said Dick Rabold, pool manager.

He has collected several old photos and written memories, which are displayed at the entrance to the pool office. Among the photos are one of Dow Nelson, the pool's first manager, and a message from his daughter, Linda Nelson Mrukowski.

"Hard to believe it has been 60 years," she wrote.

Though no one grand celebration is planned, traditional activities and old-fashion fun are part of every occasion at the pools this summer, Rabold said.

Wet'n Wild, the family night established in 1970, this year included old-fashion three-legged races, a watermelon relay and other "Norman Rockwell activities," he said.

Member Appreciation Day on Aug. 24 is expected to reflect memories of the past six decades, as well. Some of those favorite memories being shared center on the people who helped start the privately run pool in 1953 and who have contributed to its success over the years.

Besides Nelson, names that keep coming up are Dave Howell, Bill Lane, Jim Probasco and Barbara Kay, known locally as the Mother of Worthington Swimming.

All have passed since making such a contribution to the pools over the years.

High on the list of memories are the jukebox that played top-40 hits for many years and the Jerry Rasor Dance Parties that were broadcast from the pool in the 1960s.

Some of those who shared memories with Rabold recalled working their first jobs at the Worthington Pools.

"Looking back to that summer when the new pool opened, it was a fun and carefree summer and I even got paid for being there," wrote Carl Wick, who now lives in Centerville.

Other summer favorites established over the years are hot dog nights, floating flicks, a corn roast and the July 4th moonlight swim and fireworks.

Things have changed since a single pool with wooden benches was funded by a group of neighborhood families in the early 1950s, Rabold said.

Today, the pool complex includes three outdoor heated pools, a natatorium, a splash pad, a picnic shelter and lots of comfortable outdoor furniture.

The jukebox is gone. Instead, the pool complex caters to families. Teenagers are still more than welcomed, but everything was redesigned a few years ago to encourage mom and dad to come to the pool and to special events with their children.

What has not changed is the year-round swim lessons and the tradition of being a central part of the community, Rabold said.

Current membership is 1,400 households, with approximately 3.5 members per family. Membership rates range from $111 for a senior who lives in the school district to $382 for a family of four or more residing outside the district. Daily passes also are available.

The outdoor pool complex employs about 80 people for the summer, with five full-time and 30 part-time employees year-round at the natatorium.

The pool complex's budget is nearly $1 million a year. It is run by Swiminc, a nonprofit board of trustees.

Privately run pools are rare these days, and people are often surprised to find that the Worthington Pools complex is not operated by the city of Worthington, Rabold said.

"The needs we have supplied all these years are needs the city does not have to supply," he said.

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