Nestled in the woods near The Institute for Advanced Study is a hidden gem. Located at the tip end of Springdale Road, Nassau Swim Club has been welcoming members for nearly 50 years.
“We are a small safe family community,” reports Anne Merrick Mavis, board member and director of marketing. “Families return year after year for the friendly atmosphere, great swimming, and good company. My kids, now 15 and 13, love it. This is a place that they look forward to. They spend all day here. It’s their summer home.”
A private, cooperative, board-run organization, Nassau Swim Club offers 200 memberships to families and individuals. Its community atmosphere is enhanced by members taking part in the club’s operation. As Ms. Mavis notes, “Members take on two responsibilities when they join. For example, mowing the lawn, getting the pool ready, or helping with barbecues, picnics, etc.”
The club has several social events throughout the season, including its Memorial Day opening, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and various other occasions, including a silent auction fund-raiser for the pool.
Princeton and Beyond
“We have a ‘Night Under the Stars’ with a special dinner, also a Texas Barbecue and a Movie Night, when we set up a big projector outside,” reports Ansie Monaghan, president of the board.
Members include people from Princeton and beyond, she adds. “They are people from all over the area, with different backgrounds, and we might not meet each other if it weren’t for the pool. It’s nice, too, because the kids are often from different schools, so they make new friends, as well as seeing people they already know.”
Adults are pleased that there is always a designated two-lane lap area in the six-lane, 25-foot pool, except for three hours — 8 to 11 a.m — when the swim team practices.
Children of all ages enjoy the opportunities geared to their level. A baby or wading pool is available to kids five and under. Its location beside the main pool is a plus, points out Ms. Mavis. “When my children were small, I could be with the 2-year-old in the little pool, and also keep an eye on my older child in the regular pool.”
In addition, chairs and tables are set up in shady spots surrounding the pool area.
A 13.5-foot diving well is another feature, which is also available for water polo.
Two life guards and one supervisor/life guard are always on duty. They are 15 yeas old or older, and have received life guard-, first aid-, CPR-, and AED- certified.
Small group swimming lessons are free to all ages, including adults.
Focus on Fun
The club’s swim and dive teams are part of the Princeton Area Swim & Dive Association (PASDA) and teams consist of boys and girls six to 18. They compete against teams in the area, and are at all ability levels. Various meets are held, including a championship meet at the end of the season.
The focus is on the enjoyment of swimming and the pleasure of being on the team. As the club statement notes: “At the conclusion of a meet, individual swimmers are ranked and awarded ribbons. The individual swimmers’ combined scores result in a winning team. We have a number of very good swimmers, but the emphasis is on fun and being part of the team. We believe that creating an atmosphere where kids are enjoying the activity keeps them interested. We encourage team members to come to practice daily, but we understand when other summer commitments take priority.”
Team members are required to have completed the deep end test and have a desire to have fun, continues the statement. “No previous experience is needed to join the team. Parents of participants are asked to volunteer to work at three of the meets, either home or away, and to bring a baked good for the home meet. You will also be asked to work one event at the championship.”
Regulations for the dive team are similar to those for the swim team.
General pool regulations require that children under 12 be accompanied by an adult (except for team members). Those over 12 may be unaccompanied, if they have passed the deep end test, and have signed parental permission.
Children often go on to become life guards as they grow up, says Ms. Mavis. “My son Andrew, who has come to the pool since he was four, will be a life guard this summer.”
Supervisor David Adlai-Gail, 19, has been with Nassau Swim Club since his very earliest days, and has a singular history. He came as a baby, began swimming at two, but as he reports, he actually came before he was born. “My mom came to the pool when she was expecting me!”
Nassau Swim Club provides a unique atmosphere that results in long-standing memberships, points out Ms. Monaghnan.
“It’s such a special place. You can always count on it here. It will always be the same relaxed, tranquil environment, as well as a place to make new friends. We want to keep it this way and have it continue to be this special place where we are able to offer the joy of swimming and an atmosphere of simplicity. And, it is a joy to be part of an organization that teaches children the love of water.”
Ms. Mavis agrees, adding: “We really are set apart by the simplicity, the wonderful setting with the natural shade, and the cooperation among the members. What a privilege to be part of such a special place.”
Family and individual memberships are available at reasonable costs, including discounts for those over 55, students, and those from nearby Princeton University, The Institute for Advanced Study, and Princeton Theological Seminary. There is also a generous guest pass policy.
Members may bring their own snacks or lunch; a refreshment concession is operated by students on an intermittent basis.
The pool is open from Memorial Day through the second week in September from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (609) 436-0797. Website: www.nassauswimclub.org.