The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

August 2, 2013

Clinton is a swimming city

Clinton, Iowa, is definitely a swimming city due in part to being a river town.

The logging industry was key to its early history, and countless inhabitants have owed their livelihood, and occasionally their fatal end, to the mighty Mississippi. Early on, people of Clinton wanted to develop pools, because the river was so turbulent and dangerous at this point. Therefore, being a swimming city is equally attributable to the great swimming leadership that this city has enjoyed over the years.

The spiritualist camp had the area’s first outdoor pool at the turn of the 20th Century. The YMCA opened the first public-use pool, where Bill Jacobsen taught the athletic/gymnast Howard Judd to be a swimmer; he later became a legendary coach. The World War II Schick Hospital, in Lyons, knew the importance of swimming for rehabilitation of wounded soldiers, and they had a fantastic pool. Unfortunately, it was never able to be assimilated for public use. Oakhurst had an outdoor pool, which still can be seen.

To my knowledge, there’s been just one indoor pool at a private residence. Bob and Frances Bickelhaupt were avid swimmers, who loved its curative aspects for their arthritis. They built a pool in their home on the grounds of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum and, for many years, swam daily. Sadly, Mrs. Frances (Kershner) Bickelhaupt, who was 97, died this past week — and swimming, nature and Clinton have lost a fine supporter.

The old pool under the bleachers at Clinton High School was woefully inadequate, but the one under Yourd Gym (1960) was a big improvement and lasted about 50 years. The newest CHS pool (2010) is now open for all to see and use. Yes, swimming has surely been enhanced through Clinton’s schools.

We have had great nationally known swimmers, such as Gary Morris, the great coach Howard Judd (1901-1978), and some sad events involving great swimmers, too — like the drowning of one Richard P. Eagan, who swam from bridge to bridge in 27 minutes in 1913 and then tragically drowned a year later while being chased by police. It turns out that they only wanted to question him about someone else’s altercation, but he had been drinking before fleeing to the river, which was usually his friend.

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