July 5, 2023

Swim Club Tries to Keep Afloat Amid Post-Pandemic Challenges

HISTORIC HAVEN: Broadmead Swim Club, a part of Princeton summers for 60 years, is seeking new members to avoid closure from challenges that have added up since the pandemic. (Courtesy of Broadmead Swim Club)

By Wendy Greenberg

Three years ago, on July 4, 2020, Princeton’s Broadmead Swim Club, which was closed in the pandemic, optimistically posted on social media that it looked forward to 2021. Broadmead did reopen in 2021, but never regained the pre-pandemic level of membership, according to a statement from the club.

This Fourth of July week, the community club, which has been a haven for recreation and relaxation for Princetonians for more than 60 years, is “facing closure,” if it doesn’t add new members.

To attract new members, the club is offering “try it out” day passes for new individuals and families and pro-rated new memberships through Labor Day.

Discounts for 2023 season memberships, in different amounts for families, couples, singles, and University-connected parties, are being offered, with the deadline extended from July 4 to July 10.

“The pandemic hit us hard,” said board member and spokesperson Shelley Krause. “Over the years we have tried to keep membership fees as low as possible, just covering our operating expenses.”

What that means, she said, “is we didn’t have a lot in the coffers when we had a complete fallow season in 2020, followed by a decline in membership during the pandemic.”

The club is at 184 Broadmead, near the University campus. Before the pandemic, there were 115-120 members during a summer, and now there are 90, said Krause.

What the pandemic did was “wipe out the cushion we had to pay the off-season expenses,” she said, citing maintenance and insurance.

The club was totally closed for the 2020 season when COVID-19 first started, she said. The next season was challenging for management, with supply chain issues affecting chemicals, pool pumps, and other supplies.

The club is also weathering a lifeguard shortage, which Krause said “seems to be everyone’s experience.” She cited estimates of “up to 50 percent of public pools facing the very real possibility that they may need to close if they can’t provide required safety measures.”

Lifeguard shortages have been reported in news media, including an Atlantic magazine article, “How lifeguards lost their luster” (June 9, 2023), which attributes the shortage to stringent requirements, pay, and the rise of summer internships. The article states, “According to the American Lifeguard Association, about half of the nation’s public pools will have to close or reduce their hours this summer because of a lack of staff.”

Broadmead’s comeback depends on acquiring new members. The landscaped grounds boast a tree-lined 25-yard swimming pool with dedicated lap lanes and diving board, and a popular wading pool. It also features Wi-Fi and room to lounge, picnic, and play.

In Broadmead’s statement, member Suzin Green called it “welcoming” and “so easy to walk or ride my bike over. It would be a huge loss for the community,” she said, if it closed.

Said Krause, “Dinner at the pool is part of a lot of people’s lives. You can act as if it is your pool. But you don’t have to take care of it. It’s a sweet little summer oasis.”

To see Broadmead Swim Club’s membership options, visit broadmeadswimclub.com or call (609) 759-0272.