Ninety years ago today, on January 28, 1928, the City of Fort Lauderdale celebrated the opening of the Casino Pool (1928-1967), the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in the state of Florida. That facility put Fort Lauderdale on the map as a tourist destination and ninety years later drawing visitors from around the world who enjoy the Aquatic Center and all its offerings.
Located directly on the beach at what is now known as D.C. Alexander Park, and just south of Las Olas Boulevard, this beautiful Spanish-style facility, engineered by Clifford Root was filled twice a week with salt water directly from the Atlantic Ocean. The Casino Pool 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 Casino Pool remained at the forefront of the swimming scene for nearly half a century, and consequently witnessed a great deal of American swimming history.
Records indicate the pool cost $125,000, and measured 50.38 meters by 18.3 meters (165 feet long and 60 feet wide/55 yards by 20 yards). News reports reflect construction began in November 20, 1927 and the pool opened officially to the public on January 29, 1928.
Since then, the current five-acre aquatics venue opened in 1965 followed by the International Swimming Hall of Fame dedication in 1968. 10 world records have been set in Fort Lauderdale while our community has had the honor of serving as host to hundreds of local, state, regional, national and international events including the world’s most famous athletes in the sports of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming.
Today, continuing the great tradition of aquatic sports, plans are underway for improvements at the aquatic center that will enrich the community and inspire new generations of swimmers and divers.
Commentary by Laura Voet, Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex Manager
Editors’s Note: The upgrades, along with the recent merger with Swimming World Magazine and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, will reposition Fort Lauderdale as the premier international destination for aquatic sports.