Richmond Swims strives to provide swimming skills, competitive swimming, fitness and friendship to Richmond residents of all ages and skill levels.
Our home pool is the Richmond Municipal Natatorium – “The Plunge” – in Richmond, CA.
Promoted by the citizens of Richmond, The Plunge was created through a bond issue in 1926. At that time, it was a “state of the art” two-story building with an indoor warm water swimming pool double the size of an Olympic pool, a fountain, observation balconies, and an open truss ceiling reminiscent of the Sutro Baths in San Francisco. Richmond’s population was about 20,000 then, grew to over 200,000 during the “war years” and is now about 80,000.
Over the years, the masonry building deteriorated, the hollow-clay-tile walls cracking after 76 years of deferred maintenance. Richmond Friends of Recreation (RFR) was organized in 1979 as a non-profit organization with the purpose of supporting community recreation programs, spearheaded a major rehabilitation of the pool equipment and repainting of the structure. The Plunge was further damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. City voters rejected a bond measure to reinforce it in 1997. In November 1997, the City Council realized they did not have the funds to retrofit the building and determined they had no option but to close the Plunge permanently. However, even though it was unsafe, people were allowed to swim in it until August 2001, although they had to pass “Swim at your own risk” signs.
When the Plunge was slated for demolition, residents protested and Richmond Friends of Recreation (RFR) stepped in to work with the City in a unique Public/Private Partnership to raise the necessary funds to retrofit, upgrade and reopen the Plunge. The renovation planning process was complicated by the fact that the Plunge is located in the Point Richmond Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. This meant that officials had to ensure the renovation would not damage the site’s historic value
Richmond Friends of Recreation established a “Save the Richmond Plunge Trust” under its tax-exempt status and raised over $154,000 in cash and in excess of $40,000 in kind donations from local business owners to renovate the Plunge. Through the efforts of RFR, the Plunge opened again in 2010
Richmond Swims is the evolution of RFR, continually providing swim programs in the Plunge for the Richmond community.