Fort Lauderdale Celebrates 90 Years of Swimming

casino-pool
Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

Commentary by Laura Voet, Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex Manager

90 years ago ons January 28, 1928, the City of Fort Lauderdale celebrated the opening of the Casino Pool (1928-1967), the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in the state of Florida. That facility put Fort Lauderdale on the map as a tourist destination!

Located directly on the beach at what is now known as D.C. Alexander Park, just south of Las Olas Boulevard, this beautiful Spanish-style facility was engineered by Clifford Root and filled twice a week with salt water directly from the Atlantic Ocean. The Casino Pool was home to the nation’s top swimmers for decades, namely Katherine Rawls, Fort Lauderdale’s first celebrity of sport and international athletic ambassador. The Casino Pool remained at the forefront of the swimming scene for nearly half a century, and consequently witnessed a great deal of American swimming history.

Records indicate the pool cost $125,000, and measured 50.38 meters by 18.3 meters (165 feet long and 60 feet wide/55 yards by 20 yards).  News reports reflect construction began in November 20, 1927 and the pool opened officially January 29, 1928.

Since then, the current five-acre aquatics venue opened in 1965 followed by the International Swimming Hall of Fame dedication in 1968. 10 world records have been set in Fort Lauderdale while our community has had the honor of serving as host to hundreds of local, state, regional, national and international events including the world’s most famous athletes in the sports of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. Today, continuing the great tradition of aquatic sports, plans are underway for improvements at the aquatic center that will enrich the community and inspire new generations of swimmers and divers.

Editors’s Note: The upgrades, along with the recent merger with Swimming World Magazine and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, will re-position Fort Lauderdale as the premier international destination for aquatic sports.

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Late 1960’s Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

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1980’s Early 90’s Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

 

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Current Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

23 Comments
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4 years ago

Susan Newell Braman

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Lane Four
4 years ago

The first time I saw the Fort Lauderdale facilities back in 1989, I was floored. Such a great place for swimmers to train AND learn about the sport’s history at the ISHOF. Plus, the location could not be equaled!

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4 years ago

This is amazing to read. My late father funded my first every training camp (not much money in the pocket) and it was truly special to swim out of Fort Lauderdale in 1984 staying at Days Inn with my “Team” from England (The City of Birmingham Advanced Swimming Programme). I recall the tough sets, sun, beach and a great american breakfast… Flying into Miami the warm air filled my chest as I stepped out the door, a wonderful feeling. My first international road to Seoul 1988 and my special silver medal for the 200m BR. Thanks Dad.

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Lane Four
4 years ago

An absolute honor and joy to read of your experiences, Nick. Thank you for sharing!

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4 years ago

Mike Van Thielen

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4 years ago

Ayman Ahmed

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4 years ago

Cool place.

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4 years ago
Reply to  Brady Bingham

Thanks SW for allowing me to visit Ft. Lauderdale many years ago

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4 years ago

Was this where you worked Yvonne ??

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4 years ago
Reply to  Louise Foster

No – but I had a few swims in there. Beautiful pool x

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4 years ago

Lots of winter training memories there.

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I would like to live there

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4 years ago

Katherine Werra

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4 years ago

I was both a swimmer and a coach at this great facility. What an honor

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4 years ago

Dana Bryant – many memories here!

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4 years ago
Reply to  Megen Gaddy

Wonderful memories for sure/lots of practices!❤️

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4 years ago

Swam in the Casino Pool – salt water and no googles!

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Kurt Wienants
4 years ago

Very proud of my hometown facility. I grew up there swimming and it was an absolute privilege. Driving to morning practices watching the first rays of the sun peeking over the horizon made morning workouts much more tolerable. Great job Laura Voet.

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John Colemab
4 years ago

Many swimming championships and diving championship coverages by ABC’s Wide World of Sports back in the 70’s and early 80’s. Was always an exiting pleasure to work at the pool, be it public swimming, local swim meets, or National and International competition televised by ABC. National and World Wide advertising for Fort Lauderdale and Aquatics as a whole. Many well deserved kudos to John Dee Morgan who lobbied ABC for their numerous coverages of the exciting competition that was the hallmark of many aquatic athletes whose accomplishments gain them entrance into the Swimming Hall of Fame that was partnered with this great facility. And Coach Jack Nelson, Olympic Coaching legend and motivator who coached and trained many an Olympic Champion and talented local champions.

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4 years ago
Reply to  John Colemab

I certainly had the pleasure of meeting Coach Jack Nelson and even swam a few sessions with him towards the end of my Elite Swimming Career… A wonderful man who once said to me “Son you have a mean looking stroke there” when commenting on my technique. Great times… #Success

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AfterShock
4 years ago

A tourist destination, yes, but only for white tourists:

“Unlike other southern communities, there were no “Whites Only” signs at the old pool or on the beach,but it was well known that both were for whites only and from the time it was built, until it closed in 1965, it is believed that no African American ever swam in the historic Casino Pool or bathed on the famous Fort Lauderdale Beach.”

http://www.ywca.org/atf/cf/%7B09E41378-901D-47D3-91DE-C700B1371B1F%7D/history%20AA%20swimming.pdf

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Amalie Kærgaard

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Christina L.
4 years ago

My hometown pool! FLST and Jack Nelson, June Woolger, Gary Butts, Alan Toll great coaches growing up here!