Fresh off a $5 million makeover, the pool at Maple Bluff Country Club is ready for its close-up this weekend.
The Madison All-City Swim Meet returns to Maple Bluff this morning for the first time since 1964. The popular youth competition, one of the largest amateur swimming events in the country, will run through Saturday.
Maple Bluff Country Club is 118 years old, and its swimming and diving team is one of the oldest in the All-City League.
Still, it took a makeover of the pool facilities to give the club enough capacity to hold the burgeoning competition. More than 2,000 competitors are expected to take part.
Preparations for the new pool began in 2014 when former board president Betsy Zadra and former pool chairman Kathleen McNeil collaborated with the Village of Maple Bluff to fulfill the club’s hosting obligations.
“As a member of the All-City Swim and Dive League, we have a responsibility to host the event. And we are thrilled to now have the facilities to be able to do so,” said Beth Goeddel, current pool chairman and liaison between the All-City Swim plan committee and the club board of directors.
With J.H. Findorff and Son pitching in as a financial sponsor and the club’s construction firm, the two-year project provided just the sort of upgrade the club was seeking.
The previous pool, built in 1987, had a total swimmer capacity of 291.
Constructed with a combined swimming and diving well and only six swimming lanes, the club had only been equipped to host smaller meets and social events for Maple Bluff residents and club members.
The new pool has upgraded to a capacity of 344 swimmers, with eight lanes and a separate diving well.
“As we designed the pool, we put much thought into ensuring we designed it to host All-City Swim and Dive Meets. We are able to accommodate more swimmers and, more importantly, efficiently host meets,” Goeddel said.
The club’s primary focus — and the most difficult aspect of the pool’s construction — is the congruity of the new design. Unlike previous setups, this pool was built specifically to accommodate competitive events.
“To prepare for 2,000 swimmers and even more spectators to come to our pool over the three-day meet, we had to re-imagine the space in and around the pool, and even areas throughout the Village of Maple Bluff,” Goeddel said. “We have a concentrated setup so the swimmers will be close to their tents, the pool, and where they need to stage.”
And the estimated 3,000 spectators at the All-City event will have much more than a clear visual field at the new pool.
Along with a second-story terraced outdoor dining area and bar overlooking the pool — along with bleachers near the pool for prime viewing — the club has reserved space for a family-friendly area along Lake Mendota.
“True to the meet’s Beach Party theme, we are creating a fun zone at the shore where everyone can gather to play, relax, eat, enjoy the Capital view, and importantly still watch the races via a live broadcast on large TV screens,” Goeddel said.
Hosting future meets remains a focal point for the club, but it also hopes the renovations will benefit club members and residents of Maple Bluff while also drawing in new members.
“If we can build the right facility, we can welcome more people to the club,” Goeddel said.