Hillcrest Swim Club stays afloat for another season

By on May 15, 2019

Half a century ago, a group of civic-minded Akronites banded together to form the Hillcrest Swim Club. They pooled their resources, built a swimming pool, a baby pool and poolhouse on 337 Pool Road, on a two-acre plot on the west side of town. They sold ownership to the club in the form of bonds, reportedly at $500 per bond. Families who bought bonds also paid annual dues.

Memberships were limited to the number of bonds available, and there was actually a list of people who waited to buy a bond when somebody was willing to sell.

It turned out to be a swimmingly good idea for the 60s, when there were more stay-at-home moms, not every house in Akron had central air conditioning, and the only portable screen available to play games on was an Etch-a-Sketch.

That was then and this is now. The Hillcrest Swim Club has about 80 family members today. The current price of a membership certificate is $150 in 2019 dollars, versus $500 in 1960, which would be roughly $4,000, after inflation, in today’s money.

In its 1960s heyday, which is when this photo was taken, the Hillcrest Swim Club pool was a hopping place. In 1997, in a major reconstruction, the location of the main pool was moved to the left, and the baby pool, which is shown in the let corner of this photo was moved to the right.

We talked to Lisa Goeke on a recent Saturday. She was part of a five-person volunteer work party that gathered to help get things ready for the Memorial Day opening.

There had been rumors the pool wouldn’t open this year, but they have been set to rest.
What about 2020?

“We don’t know,” said Goeke, who is the organization’s secretary. They are looking for new members, she said, which has been a challenge for many private non-profit pools in recent years. Societal changes are part of the challenge for Hillcrest, but Goeke thinks there’s another challenge just as big.

The Hillcrest Swim Club is invisible. People don’t know it’s there. Most of the people who drive on Pool Road live on Pool Road, which doesn’t seem to be a way to anywhere and a shortcut to nowhere.

Any objective observer would have to say it’s a nice, well-maintained facility &tstr; an adult pool with plenty of room to swim laps, a baby pool off to the side, a poolhouse with a snack bar manned by volunteers, a few swings and a sand volleyball court. In its heyday, that volleyball court on weekends was the scene of all-ages co-ed games that gave way in the afternoon to hotly contested battles as the youngsters and the ladies retired to give the “gentlemen” players space to work things out.

(At least that’s the recollection of this reporter, a former, sometimes battered, member from the early days.)

Today, the volleyball court is mostly used as a giant sandbox, a miniature beach of sorts, which isn’t a bad thing.

A recent Saturday work crew was at the Hillcrest Swim Club to help get the facility ready for the summer. The crew included, left to right, Lisa Goeke, Jessie Zimmerman, Christina Hage and Joe Dunn. Tom Murray Sr., was at the deep end of the pool using a sump pump to drain accumulated rainwater.

Goeke said she didn’t even know about the pool for the first few years she and her husband and son lived in Akron. She discovered it, joined four years ago, and is glad she did. What she likes:

• Her fellow members
• The family-friendly ambiance, and the fact that a parent can keep an eye on a child in the big pool while monitoring a child in the baby pool.
• The hours: noon to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
• Reasonable snack bar prices for pizza, hot dogs, pretzels, the usual snacks and, would you believe, penny candy
• Taco Tuesdays
• Red Cross certified lifeguards
• Pool toys are not only allowed but can be borrowed from the poolhouse.

Goeke said they do have a few fundraisers throughout the summer. They sell carwash tickets and donated baked goods. There’s an ice cream social every year and Taco Tuesdays bring in a little extra cash.

A recent photo of the Hillcrest Swim Club pool.

“But what we really need is more members,” she said.

There’s information about the club and a membership form at its website, which is at hillcrestswim.net.

Dick Wanner is a reporter/photographer for The Ephrata Review. He can be reached at rwanner.eph@lnpnews.com. 

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