Are you ready to experience the most exciting 10 seconds Madison has to offer? You’ll find it at Crystal Beach Swimming Pool, Madison’s municipal pool on West Vaughn Drive.
This weekend will be your last chance this season to experience Crystal Beach. It will be open noon to 6 p.m.on Saturday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 19. Because most of the lifeguards have gone back to school, the pool will then be closed until next Memorial Day.
The pool design is wonderful. It was built by WPA workers in the 1930s, putting 70 men to work during the Great Depression. The unique shape of the pool – like a seashell – allows folks to wade into the shallow water from each angle of a semi-circle. It’s called a “beach” because originally the pool was edged with sand.
My favorite part of the pool is the curly slide. It’s 28 feet high, which means you climb quite a few stairs. I like to pause at the top to enjoy the view – the Presbyterian Church and Brown Gym on your left, the broad sweep of the Ohio River and the Lanier Mansion on your right.
I wait my turn with the kids (why am I the only adult up there?) and when the lifeguard gives me the OK, I position myself for the 63-foot plunge. I lean back to increase my speed, push off, then try to remember to breathe in and out as I zip through the three 360-degree turns and several switchbacks. One last intake of air and the bottom drops out. I’m submerged in the pool and fighting to regain my footing and what little remains of my dignity.
OK, that’s my 10-second thrill.
It’s available to anyone with the $4 daily admission to Crystal Beach Swimming Pool and enough humility to wait in line with the kids.