Swimming Hall of Fame and Museum –
I arrive at the complex and park on the road adjacent to the museum right at 9:00am, shocked that parking is available on the beach frontal road and only $3.75 for 3 hours. A large competition pool nestles between 2 buildings; one being the Museum the other the Hall of Fame. I walk to the Hall of Fame to find doors are locked.
I mill around the pool and notice all manner of life guards gathering before heading to their stands on the beach. They have their oblong life saver floaty things and it’s as if I’m on the set of Baywatch.
Soon, the Hall of Fame opens and I walk into a large single room. There are several TV’s looping all vying for my attention. They are showing various races, events, and other swimming related interests. The room is menagerie of medals, flags, collectibles, wearables and various dioramas. Seeing actual Olympic medals was a bit of a thrill.
Some of the historical pieces depicting swimming as entertainment in the 20-30’s is of most interest to me. Imagining a time when a Harold “Stubby” Krueger billed as “The King of Aquatic Comedy” could entertain the masses with aquatic humor. Daredevils plunging from high platforms into shallow pools, some to their own peril. Or a Gertrude Ederle gripping the nation as she becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
The corner with a large mannequin of Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan eerily staring at me is unsettling and I move away from that corner of the room. Much more appealing is the diorama highlighting Rodney Dangerfield’s Triple Lindy dive in the movie Back to School. The display has a repeating video of the dive, the original story board of the dive scene, make up required for the stunt diver and other trivia.
The museum, located above the small gift shop, depicts the history of swimming through the ages. Highlighted are early depictions of swimming and diving in prehistoric times, through to modern day photography in multiple water sports. Also represented are American presidents in swimming. I knew Ronald Reagan was a heralded life guard, but didn’t know he is credited with saving 77 lives.
I had a vague knowledge of John F. Kennedy and the PT-109. I didn’t know, however, that JFK’s training as a Harvard swimmer equipped him to save 11 lives when his boat capsized. This act of bravery earned him the Silver Star presumably helping launch has political career. See kids, learn to swim and you too can be president.
Even as a non-competitive swimmer or diver, there are enough historical pieces that make the venue interesting and educational.
With still over an hour left on the parking meter, I cross the street to find an unusually vacant beach. With Baywatch now intact to protect me, I wonder if I should don a speedo and attempt to master the waves. Nah, I wisely opt for an leisurely stroll instead.