MILLTOWN, NJ - The calendar may not officially say summer, but the water is certainly fine at the borough's Brookside Swim Club. Brookside is marking its 65th anniversary this year and the festivities will make a big splash of fun as they do every June, July and August.
Weather dampened the swim club's grand opening weekend. Brookside opens up to its members young and young at heart every Memorial Day weekend. Families line up to be the first to hit the pool. May 27 cooperated with the pool's opening with temperatures in the high eighties with the humidity to go with it. The pool was packed full of happy kids, parents and adults ready to get the summer of 2018 rolling. However, swift moving evening storms plummeted temps and the inviting pools were empty save the staff for the rest of the Memorial Day weekend.
However, even with the back and forth June temperatures, Brookside's members are more than ready to hit the pool, taking advantage of the sun and warm temps whenever Mother Nature delivers. Members come from Milltown and all the surrounding Middlesex County communities with many people returning summer after summer for decades. Brookside first opened its gates in 1953. Two members are from those early years in the 1950s and still spend their summers poolside and are affectionately known as the "Umbrella Ladies."
The land the Brookside Swim Club occupies was donated by the Kuhlthau brothers and reverts back to the family if it ceases to be utilized as a pool club. Brookside's facility offers members a packed menu of summer fun from free ice cream on a warm Saturday afternoon to swim lessons to a competitive swim team to arts and crafts and more. If members get tired of swimming or jumping off of one of the diving boards, there is ping pong, foosball, beach volleyball, basketball and a playground. Picnic tables and deck chairs abound to enjoy a hot summer read or watch the kiddos splash. Of course, there are plenty of floaties and tubes to wile away a sweltering day along with grills and immaculate men's and ladies' changing areas complete with showers. Brookside even installed some charging stations to allow members to juice up their smart phones without hunting for outlets.
Brookside is open on weekends beginning Memorial Day and gets running daily when school's out for summer. Gates open daily at 5:45 a.m. for the Riptide's swim practice before Brookside's swim team takes over the pool. By 9 a.m. it's time for swim lessons and area camps hop in the water from 10 a.m. until noon. Members take up residence from 12 p.m. until closing at 9 p.m. The Mini Minnows swim competition is always a highlight every summer.
"We try to be open as much as possible," operating manager Ann Marie Waidelich explained.
The North Brunswick resident and teacher shares the managing duties with Jack Blalock and Courtney Thompson. Brookside is governed by a managing board that includes 13 members. Dave Simon is the president and Leslie Thompson is the vice president. All the board members have a long history with the pool club, spending many a happy summer inside its gates.
When the pool first opened, the pool was a bit smaller and lacked the pavilion. Renovations added the diving well and made the pool longer, allowing the pool to host swim competitions like the Mini Minnows.
"This pool is nice because we can run eight lanes for a swim team event" Waidelich said. "We can run an eight lane meet pretty quickly."
"It's a nice thing to host (the Mini Minnows) because its all nine and unders," Waidelich continued. "They get to swim events they don't get to swim in the regular season."
Even parents get the opportunity to show off their stuff at the Mini Minnows competition, swimming against each other.
Waidelich has been a part of the management team for the past 13 years. She first started coming to Brookside as a member when her youngest was four. While she enjoys teaching, her favorite times during the year come poolside. Helping to manage Brookside is a labor of love.
Throughout the summer, Brookside holds events like Teen Nights, regattas with handmade boats as well as a whole host of July 4 activities and more.
On June 28 and June 29, Olympic swimmer Nick Thoman will be coming to Brookside to hold a Fitter and Faster Swim Clinic. Thoman won a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic games in London and was a member of the gold medal-winning 4x100 medley relay team. The Ohio native will be getting in the water to show swim team members key skills such as turns, starts, dolphin kicks and breakouts.
Swim lessons are available at Brookside for both members and non-members. Members are offered a discounted rate for swim lessons. Sue Pazinko heads up the swim lessons, which are available for tiny tots, beginners, advanced beginners and intermediates. Morning and evening times are available. Pazinko is as assistant swim coach for North Brunswick High School as well as the director of Brookside's swim school. She also trains the full staff of lifeguards who keep watch over the pool when it's in use.
Brookside will officially mark its 65th anniversary on its annual July Family Fun Day, which includes an in-pool blowup/obstacle course and other family-friendly activities.
For additional information on the Brookside Swim Club including membership details, visit the club's website. Membership options include family, senior family, single adult, single child and swim team.