FortLauderdale.gov

History & World Records

Fort Lauderdale's Swimming Legacy

History

Fort Lauderdale's swimming heritage dates back to the Civitan raft off Las Olas Boulevard and the monumental Casino Pool, which followed in 1928. As the first pool of Olympic size (50m x 20m) in Florida, it remained at the forefront of the swimming scene for nearly half a century and consequently witnessed a great deal of American swimming history.

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 (1928-1966) 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 pool cost $150,000, and measured 50.38 meters by 18.3 meters (55 yards by 20 yards).

municipal_poolOriginally built in 1965, the property is home to the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, a municipal pool owned and operated by the City of Fort Lauderdale. Considered a leader and pioneer among the world's top aquatic centers, the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex contains two 50-meter Olympic-size pools, a diving pool, a teaching pool and a spa.

The Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex is home to U.S. National Team Champions, the Fort Lauderdale Dive Team (FLDT), and Swim Fort Lauderdale (SFTL). Swim Fort Lauderdale is an award winning USA Swimming and U.S. Masters Swimming team. In 2012, SFTL earned USA Swimming Level 3 club honors and was recognized by USA Swimming as a Silver Medal National Club of Excellence.

Dave Burgering, 2008 USA Olympic Coach, member of the 1980 USA Olympic, and Past President of USA Diving directs the diving team. With over 70 years of combined experience, highly acclaimed coaches Jennifer and Dave Gibson are the head age group coaches for Swim Fort Lauderdale. Marty Hendrick, who lead Fort Lauderdale swimmers to the 2010 U.S. Masters National team championship title is the head coach of the adult masters team.

Open 365 days a year, the aquatic complex is an active facility and hosts an average of 50 events each year over an impressive 100 days. The pool's legacy includes the Annual College Swim Forum; U.S. National Swimming Championships; YMCA National Swimming & Diving Championships; U.S. Masters National Swimming Championships; NCAA National Water Polo Championships; the FINA/U.S. International Diving Invitational and national and international synchronized swimming competitions.

As a training site for many national and international teams, the complex is unique in that it is also a public facility, operated by the City's Parks and Recreation Department. Citizens and visitors of Fort Lauderdale have an opportunity to swim in the same pool that Olympic and World Champions train and ten world records have been set.

Katherine Rawls

Katherine Rawl's swimming prowess (1930-1939) not only put the tiny beach town of Fort Lauderdale on the map as a tourist

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destination, but it launched Fort Lauderdale's swimming legacy with the beginning of the College Swim Forum in 1935 and later the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1964.

At five feet two and a muscular 107 pounds, she was described as "a tiny slip of a girl with the fighting spirit and trim lines of a tarpon." But it was the kind personality and charm of this Fort Lauderdale High alumna that sold South Florida and Fort Lauderdale to millions in newsreels, magazines, and newspapers across the world.

Katherine Rawls reigned supreme over American swimming and diving during the 1930s. In 1937 she was elected by the Associated Press as "The Number One Athlete of the Year" among female competitors taking top honors over champions including Patty Berg, Babe Didrikson, Alice Marble, and Eleanor Holm.

Katherine Rawls inspired generations of children and is amongst the greatest athletes Florida has produced, capturing a record 30 national titles in swimming and diving. During her career, Katherine won 14 national outdoor swimming titles, 11 indoor national titles and five national diving titles in addition to making the 1932 Olympic Diving Team and the 1936 Olympic Swimming and Diving Teams, and holding the world record in the individual medley.

At her retirement in 1939, Katherine joined the war effort by becoming one of the world's top woman flyers and one of the original 25 women pilots selected for the U.S. Squadron of Women's Army Ferry Service, who shuttled World War II planes to combat zones for the Air Transport Command.

Through her athletic accomplishments and goodwill Katherine Rawls became as much associated with South Florida as coconuts, orange juice, Seminoles, palm trees, pelicans and alligators. In honor of her many accomplishments, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Virginia Young declared January 28, 1973, Katherine Rawls Day in the City of Fort Lauderdale.

For more information, visit the web site http://www.ishof.org/.

References:
Burghard, August. Half A Century In Florida
Dawson, Buck. Weissmuller To Spitz

For more information, visit the International Swimming Hall of Fame web site at http://www.ishof.org/.

 
Olympians

Athletes that have represented the City of Fort Lauderdale as members of the USA Olympic Team:

Swimmers - Fort Lauderdale Swim Team

Joel Thomas

1996

4x100 Freestyle Relay

Gold Medalist

Paige Zemina

1988

4x100 Freestyle Relay

Bronze Medalist

Jack Nelson*
1976
Head Women's Team Coach Coach

Dave Edgar

1972

4x100 Freestyle Relay

Gold Medalist

Dave Edgar

1972

100m Butterfly

5thPlace

Shirley Stobbs

1960

4x100 Freestyle Relay

Gold Medalist

Jack Nelson
1956
200mButterfly 4thPlace
Katherine Rawls
(Casino Pool)
1936
4x100 Freestyle Relay Gold Medalist

*Jack Nelson is the only head Olympic swimming coach to have also been an Olympic athlete.

Divers - Fort Lauderdale Dive Team

Dave Burgering

2008

Coach

.

Jevon Tarantino

2008

3m Synchro

.

Tim O'Brien

2000

Coach

.

Michelle Davison

2000

3m Springboard; 3m Synchro

.

Scott Donie

1992

3m Springboard

Silver Medalist

Mary Ellen Clark

1992

10m Platform

Bronze Medalist

Mary Ellen Clark

1996

10m Platform

Bronze Medalist

Kent Ferguson

1992

3m Springboard

.

Karen LaFace

1992

3m Springboard

.

Jenny Keim

1996

3m Springboard

.

Dr. Ron O'Brien

1992

Coach

.

Dr. Ron O'Brien

1996

Coach

.
Elbert Roon
(Casino Pool)
1936
10m Platform Silver Medalist
Katherine Rawls
(Casino Pool)
1936
3m Springboard Silver Medalist
Katherine Rawls
(Casino Pool)
1932
3m Springboard Silver Medalist

 

World Recordscoughlinvictoryphelpsvictory

Since its opening, ten world records have been set at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. Two were broken in one day on August 13, 1991, during the Phillips 66/US National Swimming Championships. Two more were broken within 48 hours in August 2002. (Left: Michael Phelps, 08/15/02; Right: Natalie Coughlin, 08/13/02; photos courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images) 

 

   

 

coughlinwrswim

To the left is Natalie Coughlin of the USA, on her way to becoming the first woman to swim under one minute in the 100-meter backstroke and the first American in 37 years to hold the world record in the event. (August 13, 2002; photo by George Olsen)

 

  

  

phelpswrswim 

 

To the right is Michael Phelps of the USA, on his speedy way to a new world record in the Men's 400m Individual Medley. (August 15, 2002; photo by George Olsen) 

 

For other world records, see the following chart:

Swimmer

Country

Event

Time

Date

Catie Ball

USA

100m Breaststroke

1:15.60

12/28/66

Pam Kruse

USA

400m Freestyle

4:36.80

06/30/67

Andy Coan

USA

100m Freestyle

51.11

08/03/75

Mary T. Meagher

USA

200M Butterfly

2:08.41

08/16/79

Mary T. Meagher

USA

200M Butterfly

2:07.01

08/16/79

Kim Linehan

USA

1500m Freestyle

16:04.49

08/19/79

Martin Zubero

ESP

200m Backstroke

1:57.30

08/13/91

Mike Barrowman

USA

200m Breaststroke

2:10.60

08/13/91

Natalie Coughlin

USA

100m Backstroke

0:59.58

08/13/02

Michael Phelps

US

400m Individual Medley

4:11.09

08/15/02

 

 

Photo History

Casino Pool 1928 - 1967

 

1965 Pool - Fort Lauderdale

FLAC 1980s

FLAC Site View