1980 — Maxi Mermaids begins. It is held at the Richmond Plunge. The swim was held on Saturday morning, from 9:00 to 11:00 am.
1982 — Linda Moreno & her mom, Jan, took over organizing the swim and renamed it to Making Waves.
Mid 1990s — Move to Albany HS Pool. The swim takes place on Sunday morning for 90 minutes.
2010 — Albany Pool closes for the building to be re-built; swim goes on hiatus. A few other pools are tried.
2012 — Albany Aquatic Center reopens, and Making Waves firmly re-establishes itself with an annual contract.
2017 — Beginning in July our contract is re-written shortening our time to one hour on Sunday late mornings.
2018 — Beginning in July our two year contract has expanded our time to one hour and 15 minutes on Sunday late mornings.
Frances White’s Making Waves story (former Making Waves organizer):
I started coming to the Making Waves in the mid 1980’s. It was a well-established tradition by the time I found it. My first experience was at the old Richmond Plunge, then we moved to the pool at Richmond High School before settling on the pool at Albany High School. After having to work two jobs for a while in the mid 90’s, I was able to start back with Making Waves in 1999. It was in danger of folding because it was a time when getting swimmers to pay for the program in advance was difficult. I became quite tyrannical about collecting money for Making Waves. But if it had closed, we would have missed an unbelievable experience for large women to defy gravity! Being part of Making Waves was magical for me because it was such a wonderful but quiet rebellion for a fat woman to appear in public in a swimsuit in the 1980’s.
Over the years, as the old structures went into decline and closed, we’ve tried other pools. One of the best was the Temescal Pool behind Oakland High School. It had a lift that, when working, could bring a person up to 700 lbs. into the pool. The ladders getting out of the pool were less than ideal. And that’s what you learn when on the quest for the perfect pool there isn’t one, but several come close. And that’s the point, you keep to find a pool that will work for the majority of people. To do otherwise would mean the loss of a resource for us. Some lovely pools we couldn’t all use because of the distance from parking to the pool.
What has pleased me the most over the years is that if you wait long enough, the public decides that supporting public pools is the right thing to do. They organize bond drives and they sell products to finance the reconstruction of the old pools. Who would have ever thought the Richmond Plunge would ever reopen after closing in 2001 due to seismic issues? Again, due to the way the management has decided to structure it, The Richmond Plunge isn’t a perfect setup. Imagine, they had a program for handicapped swimmers but didn’t put a good size accessible ladder near where they wanted to hold the program! The old pool at Albany High School is now the Albany Aquatic Center. The indoor pool is a little smaller than the old pool. The outdoor pool is set up only for lap swimmers and, due to staffing issues, can’t be open when the indoor pool is open. But the very best thing is that the showers provide constantly hot water. If you had ever tried swimming in the Winter at the Albany Pool when the aged boiler was on the fritz, you know what a blessing that is!
Just think, as you splash about at the Albany Pool, a lot of people worked very hard to get the Making Waves swim for large-size women up and running again. I have to thank the core group of 15 women who paid in advance to guarantee the program will continue and drop-in swimmers can be accommodated. Thank you, one and all!
It is with deep sorrow that we report that Frances White, long-time fat swim coordinator and fat activist, died on October 18, 2016. Some of you know that Frances had been in failing health for some time. The Fat Swim Coordinating Committee held a memorial celebration of Frances’ life in February 2017. Frances’ unique style of activism and her warm and gracious personality are missed by the many communities in which she lived.