The love of swimming continues
Esther Williams, a competitive swimmer and Metro Goldwyn Mayer movie star, would have been very proud if she knew her love of swimming was being passed on to the children of Orange County.
The swimming lessons are currently given in an Esther Williams pool owned by Claudine Hogan. More than 70 children will participate in the eight-day sessions taught by Mandy Hoffman, Tanya Gauthier and Lauren Browlie. Classes of up to 10 children,from ages three to 11 years old and on different skills levels, will work to master their swim skills. There is also a “Mommy and Me” class is offered to help get two-year-old children used to the water and to learn about water safety.
The classes begin with reviewing the rules on pool and water safety. Then the fun filled classes begin.
The house was built in 1954 and was put on the tax roll in 1957. The house was later remodeled and a master bedroom, a barbecue room and large indoor swimming pool was added. Williams who had started up a pool business, is said to have come to Orange and dedicated the pool and is said to have taken a swim in it.
Hogan bought the house in 1997 and cleaned the resurfaced the pool. They had to do the process again following Hurricane Ike in 2010.
Williams was enthusiastic about swimming in her youth. Her older sister, Maurine, took her to Manhattan Beach and to the local pool. She took a job counting towels at the pool to pay the five cent entry fee, and while there, had swimming lessons from the male lifeguards. From them, she learned the ‘male only’ swimming strokes, including the butterfly, with which she would later break records
Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records in her late teens as part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team. She had planned to compete in the 1940 Summer Olympics but it was cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II. She later joined the Billy Rose’s Aquacade, where she took on the role vacated by Eleanor Holm after the show’s move from New York City to San Francisco.
While there, she spent five months swimming alongside Olympic gold medal winner and Tarzan star, Johnny Weissmuller. It was at Aquacade where Williams first attracted attention from MGM scouts. Louis B. Mayer, of MGM, had been looking for a female sports star for the studio to compete with Fox’s figure skating star, Sonja Henie. Williams signed her contract with MGM in 1941.
After appearing in several small roles, alongside Mickey Rooney and future five time co-star Van Johnson in “A Guy Named Joe,” Williams made a series of films in the 1940s and early 1950s known as “aquamusicals,” which featured elaborate performances with synchronized swimming and diving.
Following her retirement from film in the 1960s, Williams became a businesswoman, and lent her name to a line of swimming pools and retro swimwear and instructional swimming videos for children. Her love of swimming took her years later to work as a commentator for synchronized swimming at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
A summer swimming lessons session by Mandy Hoffman, Tanya Gauthier and Lauren Browlie teach area children pool safety along with the fundamentals of swimming. The pool is said to have been certified in the 1960s by Esther Williams who came to Orange for the inaugural swim. More than 70 children will participate in the eight-day sessions.