[096] Olympic Swim

ScarletSistersMy friend Myra MacPherson has a new book out, and it looks like the perfect summer read:

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age

A fresh look at the life and times of Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Claflin, two sisters whose radical views on sex, love, politics, and business threatened the white male power structure of the nineteenth century and shocked the world. Here award-winning author Myra MacPherson deconstructs and lays bare the manners and mores of Victorian America, remarkably illuminating the struggle for equality that women are still fighting today.

Myra is in town this weekend for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus, and I was looking forward to catching up with her. When I looked at the FoB schedule this morning, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it to USC for her panel discussion. Rats. (Sorry to miss you, Myra… but I hope I sold a few books with this post!)

1932LAOlympics.pool+coliseum

While in scheduling mode, I was wondering when to get in my swim today. Saturdays in my usual pool tend to get a little crowded with people I generously call “floaters”. Then, the part of my brain that was still at the Book Fest remembered that USC is next to Expo Park – which includes the Coliseum and the Los Angeles Swimming Stadium.

These were built for the 1932 Olympics, and called up for duty again in 1984 for LA’s second bite at the Olympic apple. In the ’90s, the whole thing got mothballed. But ten years ago, the Swimming Stadium was given a $30 million renovation. I’ve heard it’s a great venue for lap swimming, so I’ve been wanting to give it a spin.

Today was the day.

LASwim.frontview

The two rounds of renovation tread very lightly on the original 1932 architecture and design of the Swimming Stadium, permitting this state of the art facility to keep its Art Deco bones. That’s a laudable achievement anywhere, but especially in LA – which hasn’t always put a premium on historic preservation.

LA Plunge

The Coliseum is decked out in USC’s red&gold as the home field of the Trojans.

swim stadium + coliseum

In the most recent redo a massive recreational pool was added (background); this is a godsend to us lap swimmers, as it siphons off the floaters. The 50-meter pool has a moveable divider (visible at left) creating a 25-yard pool at the far end (for diving, water polo and synchronized swimming) and the 8-lane lap pool in the foreground. 50 meters minus 25 yards = about 27 yards: 2 yards longer than the standard 25. So, the configuration of this pool makes you work a little harder for your lap count. But I took comfort in knowing I’d recess.icecream.truckget an 8% bonus at the end of my swim. Before I finish this love letter, let me just say that a six-foot-deep shallow end is a beautiful thing. All that for two bucks, and free parking! I’d swim there everygreentea.cone day if it weren’t a 20-mile roundtrip. But maybe it’s my new Saturday plunge.

Afterwards, I wandered through Expo Park, past the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center (now home to Shuttle Endevour) and over to the USC campus – which was still humming with book lovers. I stumbled upon a quad filled with food trucks, and suddenly felt famished. Funny how that works, eh? I scoped out the shortest line, and was happy to find myself at the very festive Recess Ice Cream truck asking for two scoops of green tea ice cream in a waffle cone.

As I walked slurpily away, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had an ice cream cone. Am I alone in this? Or have we all been denying ourselves one of life’s simplest pleasures for far too long??

USC.jacaranda

Lots of collegiate red brick and blue sky provide a great backdrop for this flowering jacaranda, my view while I waited for my ice cream cone. As I made my way off campus, I bumped into this guy:

USC.NeilArmstrong

And I have to say, if there’s a competition among life-size bronze statues for Best Plaque… this one just might win:

armstrong.plaque

Except for missing my friend at the book fest, today was not a bad day at all.
Olympic qualifying, in fact.

Day 096 #100happydays

Photo credit at top: Ryan Lochte by Martin Schoeller

 


The End (so far)

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4 comments

  1. Will get the book! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Years ago, a family friend co-wrote a musical based on Victoria Woodhull, Onward Victoria!, which I saw in previews as they were trying to raise money for Broadway. I thought it was terrific — fascinating plot, great songs. Unfortunately, the critics didn’t agree with me, and it closed on Broadway after a week or so. Am excited to read more about Victoria!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Entirely agree about the Armstrong statue, Steve ! – too often these are hideous beyond belief, with no apology offered. http://www.jonhair.com shows that this one was no isolated success !!
    The description of your distant new pool makes me wish I was 20 years younger and 20 times fitter: reckon you’d be mad not to go there on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

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