The Kent Swimming Club has been a gathering place for Dover residents since 1955, with generations of families spending the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day lounging by the pool, playing volleyball or climbing on the playground. At one time the club was so popular there was a waiting list for memberships.
But in recent years the Kent Swimming Club had fallen on hard times. Membership numbers were down and the club’s board of directors was having trouble keeping its finances in order. The club attempted to open for the 2013 season, but with only 64 members signed up in late May they didn’t feel the club would be able to support itself for one more season.
As circumstances would have it, the club’s board of directors worked out a deal with the Dover YMCA in May for the Y to purchase and take over the club’s pool. The pool has been prepped and will be ready for swimmers to take a dip on Saturday.
Dave Casto, president of the Kent Swimming Club Board of Directors, was walking into the Dover YMCA last month when he ran into Jim Hutchison, the Dover YMCA’s board chairman. The two men struck up a conversation and Casto told Hutchison about the troubles with the swimming club and Hutchison told Casto about the YMCA’s lack of an outdoor swimming pool. The two men quickly realized that they could be the solution to each other’s problems.
“I always had the Y in the back of my mind as a possible solution,” Casto said. “It seemed like a perfect fit. We didn’t want the land to be developed and the Y will carry on our tradition of service to families.”
The Dover YMCA recently finished a large expansion project. The organization added a gym and expanded its fitness area, but an outdoor pool was one of the missing puzzle pieces, Hutchison said.
“We wanted to have a place that people in the community would know was a good safe place for an outdoor pool,” Hutchison said. “When Dave approached us with the idea of buying the swimming club we were quite pleased. It matched up with our long-range plan.”
After three weeks, the pool is ready to go. Hutchison said one of the reasons the transition was so seamless was because of the hard work the Kent Swimming Club team had already put in.
“They had it pretty well ready to open,” Hutchison said. “The pool looked pretty much just as it does today. The water just needed to be filtered.”
Page 2 of 2 - Anyone who is already a member of the Dover YMCA will have access to the pool as part of its membership. Anyone who is interested in joining the pool has two options: They can either purchase a regular membership to the YMCA and take advantage of all of the facilities year round, or for $280 they can take advantage of the pool from this Saturday through Labor Day. During that period those who sign up for pool access will also have access to all of the other facilities at the Dover YMCA.
Those who had previously signed up for 2013 membership at the Kent Swimming Club had four options on how to proceed: They could either have their memberships transferred to Wild Quail Country Club in Camden-Wyoming or Maple Dale Country Club in Dover, or receive a refund in which half of the funds would be returned at the end of May and the other half returned once the property sale is settled. The fourth option was to wait it out and decide how to proceed once the club was sold.
Aside from operating the pool, the YMCA also has long-term goals for the property.
“Our long-range plan is to house our summer camp here,” Hutchison said. “We, by no means, have a drawing of it that we can show anyone. We still have to look and see what we can do.”
YMCA officials are looking forward to keeping a Kent County tradition alive, said Stephanie Harnish, director of marketing and communications for the YMCA of Delaware.
“We are happy to continue a community asset,” Harnish said. “This is a great place, so we are happy that the Kent Swimming Club could continue.”