For 50 years, families have been making summertime friends and memories at Northbrook Country Club. And for the members, that is cause for celebration.
“It’s going to be an exciting summer,” said Dee Kazmierczak, longtime board member.
In the 1960s, Robuck, the company that built the surrounding homes, donated the land to the neighbors to be used as a recreation area. Fifty charter members each donated $500 toward building the pool. Six years later, a clubhouse was added.
And the building and improving and updating is a continuous process.
“We strategically decided 10 years ago that we would reinvest money each year into improvements,” said Jonathan Watson, club president, as he admired new tiling throughout the pool.
Watson is like many members of the Northbrook pool. His family belonged when he was a kid, and he grew up working there and coaching swim teams.
Northbrook prides itself in its history of developing and coaching strong youth swimmers. Club members celebrated the success of member David Fox when he won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 in the 4 x 100 relay. Watson and Kazmierczak both remember Fox learning to swim in the lanes at Northbrook. And they say when he was a youngster on the swim team, he was on the “B” team, or second string, in the relay event.
Playing by the numbers
In the past 50 years, Northbrook has seen its membership roster rise and fall and then rise again.
There were lean years when there weren’t as many children living in the community around the swim club on North Hills Drive. At times, membership has declined because of competition from other clubs and city pools.
Watson says that’s when member families really stepped forward to keep things running with limited funds.
“In the toughest times, the volunteer spirit comes through,” Watson said.
Northbrook no longer markets itself as just for the neighborhood and draws members from across the city. Watson says the resurgence of nearby North Hills has helped boost the membership close to capacity in the past few years.
One of the biggest selling points is that the pool and tennis courts are situated on 10 wooded acres adjacent to the greenway.
“It’s the best-kept secret, and it’s right here in the middle of this city,” Kazmierczak said.
The club is spreading the word about the 50th anniversary and the special activities planned for the summer in the hopes that former members will join in the celebration.
The annual luau, a tradition since the 1960s, is June 23. The July 10 swim team meet will celebrate swimmers of the past and present, and a party is being planned during the summer Olympics to watch swimming events on television. The crowd-favorite Membership Appreciation Day, with free hamburgers and hot dogs, is in August.
On a Northbrook Pool Facebook page, members are posting photographs and memories.
Summertime in Raleigh is synonymous with swim clubs and swim teams. And at Northbrook Pool, families are proud to say they are part of something that is 50 years strong and growing.
“We do it all because we love kids,” say Kazmierczak, who spends countless hours volunteering today, nearly 40 years after her own four children first toddled around the Northbrook pool.