Seaford Swim Association to celebrate its 60th birthday with open house on July 4

By Lynn R. Parks

The Seaford Swim Association will celebrate its 60th birthday with an open house Monday, July 4, at its facility south of Seaford. Members of the public are welcome to visit and to join in a barbecue, said pool co-manager Alison Venables.

The pool will provide grilled meats, she said. Participants should bring a side dish to share.

The association opened its pool in 1956. The late Dr. John Rawlins, Seaford, was one of the founders of the association. Rawlins, who died in 2012, said for a newspaper article marking the pool's 50 birthday that when the Concord Pond was "the country club of the area," he said. "There was a hole out there that was 18 feet deep that we used to dive in."

Rawlins said that Bob Kellogg, an engineer at the DuPont nylon plant in Seaford, was instrumental in the construction of the pool. "He had some experience in building club pools and he told us we had to get a real strong committee with bankers, lawyers and engineers on it," he said. Members of the association's original board included bankers Charles Hollis and Gene Slacum, attorney Dean Betts and engineers Bill Kinsley, Dave Sacks and Ralph Pollman.

Organizers at first considered putting the pool near the Seaford Golf and Country Club. "We thought that the women and children could be in the pool while the men played golf, then they could meet up for dinner," Ratlins said.

But Kellogg determined that the ground there was not right for the facility. He identified five locations around town that were of sufficient elevation for a pool. Three of them had construction on them already.

One was the current site of Walkers Marine and the fifth was a wooded site near Craig's Mill Pond that was owned by Frank Moore and Tim Smith.

The two men agreed to sell portions of their land and the swim association was on its way.

"This was a community thing," said Rawlins. "Members spent whole days out there, clearing out debris. It took more than 100 people to build the pool, and about $30,000."

First pool manager was Leon Ellis, who was a history teacher at Seaford High School. Joe Nielson, a health and physical education teacher at SHS, was the second manager, followed by Steve Schwartz, an English teacher at the school.

Nielson, who still lives in Seaford, said that he joined the pool in 1962, when he and his wife had three young children at home.

"We always enjoyed water sports and swimming, and we had friends who belonged there," he said.

Nielson said that the SSA pool "is a wonderful place" for children to learn how to swim.

"There's a great family atmosphere there," he added. Even though he is no longer a member, he occasionally visits to walk around and "reminisce in my own mind."

Venables, whose mother was Kristina Swain, an early member of the pool, was put on the membership rolls when she was just a baby.

She has been a member since and now shares management duties with Cory Darden and coaches the association's swim team, the Dolphins, with Darden.

"This is a great place for families," she said. All of her seven children, now ranging in age from 13 to 26, took swimming lessons there and were on the swim team.

In particular, Venables praises the SSA baby pool, which changes in depth from 4 inches to 2 feet. "A small child can walk around and also learn to swim there," she said.

"This pool has been successful here since 1956 because people really enjoy it," she added. "It has a quiet atmosphere, because it's in a rural setting, and there are lots of trees so you can sit in sun or shade."

Martha Griffin grew up in Seaford but always went to the now-closed Jaycee pool. Not until after she moved back to the area did she learn about the "pool in the woods." She joined 13 years ago.

"It's a lovely pool, a beautiful place," she said. "Every afternoon that I'm off work and the sun is out, I'm there."

Griffin, who is a member of the association's board of directors, said that she enjoys floating around in the water and talking with friends.

She also helps out at the concession stand during swim meets.

She would like to see more people join the swim association and spend their afternoons at the pool.

"It is so refreshing there," she said. "My time at the pool is my vacation time."

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