Article 125 c.1997
Hidden Treasures: Swimmers
Practice Strokes All Year Long
 By Madison J. Gray

The swimming pool at Patton Park on Detroit's southwest side was unique when it opened in 1951. Why? Because it was the nation's first year-round pool of its kind. The natatorium, on Woodmere and Vernor, opened at a cost of $400,000. The pool is regular competition size, 42 feet by 75 feet, and ranges from 3 feet 6 inches to 10 feet in depth. Patton Park was chosen for the pool's site because of several major factors: 
  • The 96 acres of developed park land was favored by the designers -- Giffels, Valet and Rosetti Associated Engineers and Architects. 
  • The lack of a nearby recreational center. 
  • A location in a heavily industrial section of southwest Detroit. 
The indoor pool becomes an outdoor facility when two of the glass walls break away. When contracted, the west wall creates an 85-foot opening, and the south wall opens 42 feet, although it is not operative right now. The original plan called for doors that opened from the ceiling, but the building's heating and ventilation design was incompatible with their blueprint because ventilation would come from the ceiling. 
Director David Dorrell said the center has a swim team dubbed the Patton Piranhas. Competition for the team will start this summer. 
Even though he's still trying to get the south wall repaired, that doesn't stop swimmers from having year-round fun. 
"We try and provide something for everyone, and that includes families, adults and seniors," Dorrell said.
Copyright 1997, The Detroit News Photo-Jeff Kowalsky

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