he diving horses left decades ago and a huge water slide no longer whisks swimmers to the water, but a century after it opened, Deep Eddy Pool still provides one of the best cool-offs in our sizzling city.
This Saturday, the pool will celebrate its 100th birthday with a free swim day and party.
Festivities are set for 5-9 p.m. Saturday, and will include live music by Melancholy Ramblers, Hey and Sister Jane. The H2Ho’s will present a synchronized swimming show, and face painters, balloon twisters and fire dancers will provide entertainment. Food and drink will be available for purchase, along with a limited number of prints depicting the pool, created by Austin artist Brian Phillips.
Got a retro swimsuit? Wear it for a chance to win a prize for the most original and most authentic bathing attire.
Deep Eddy opened in 1916, when businessman A.J. Eilers bought a little slice of land along the river where a huge rock created a swirling eddy and built the first outdoor concrete swimming pool in Texas.
The resort, complete with rental cabins, quickly grew into as much carnival ground as swimming pool. A diving baby (who was really more of a toddler), a man dubbed “the Human Fish” who ate a banana while sitting underwater, and the Great Lorena and her Diving Horse, who plunged off a wooden ramp into a canvas-lined tank 30 feet below, performed regularly.
Bathers could glide down a 70-foot water slide, dive off a 40-foot tower or dangle from a series of rings and trapezes over the water. Attractions included a Ferris wheel, a carousel and nightly silent movies. Admission was 5 cents, and bathers could rent one-piece gray swimsuits to take a dip.
The City of Austin bought the pool in 1935. Over the years, it has inspired a musical composition, short stories and poems.
A major renovation of the pool’s bathhouse was completed in spring 2007. The facility includes open-air changing rooms, heated showers, bathrooms and a snack bar. Today, the pool is drained and refilled several times a week.
Proceeds from Saturday’s party will benefit Friends of Deep Eddy and the group’s continuing effort to maintain and support the grounds at Deep Eddy Pool.