WAC Magazine

June | July 2014

Issue link: http://www.wacmagazine.com/i/320028

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Page 26 of 67

JUNE / JULY 2014 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 27 H E L E N E M A D I S O N P O O L : A GOLD-MEDAL HISTORY O U R H I S T O R I C P O O L ➤ Since 1930, Helene Madison Pool (so named in 2002) has inspired members and served as a training ground for championship swimmers like Helene herself (pictured at left with her daughter) and the world champion relay team pictured below. ANYONE STEPPING THROUGH the doors of Helene Madison Pool recognizes something special about the place. Four oversize arched windows offer 6th Floor views of downtown skyscrapers and flood the room with natural light. A vaulted ceiling is punched with Art Deco– inspired fixtures. Small terracotta tiles form elegant wainscoting. To the south, a molded balcony offers an inviting spot to relax and watch others splash about. The pool itself—25 yards of gently circling water—looks cool and inviting. "There's simply no other pool like it," says swimming historian and one-time WAC aquatics director Chuck Kroll. "It is ornate and intimate, reminiscent of a historic natatorium. They just don't build pools like that anymore. Even at the time, in 1930, it was recognized as a thing of beauty and very ambitious." From the beginning, it was clear that WAC founders had big plans for the Club swimming pool. The palatial Art Deco style and showy 6th Floor design may have suggested greater aspirations for repose than fitness. But make no mistake, our founding Board of Governors wanted a place to foster amateur athletics. To that end, nine months before the Club's grand opening, the Board announced the Club's first athletic sponsorship. Eighteen-year-old swimmer Helene Madison, a prodigious athlete coached by former swim champion Ray Daughters, took some of her first strokes in Green Lake. When the WAC sent her to the 1930 National Swimming Championships, Madison won every event she entered and broke eight world and American records. Thus, before the WAC pool held a drop of water, L U K E R U TA N

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