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The Mission Beach Plunge opened in May of 1925 as the centerpiece of Belmont Park. The 60’ by 175’ pool was, at the time, the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water. The building encapsulating The Plunge was styled after the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that were erected in San Diego’s Balboa Park between 1915 and 1916, and was originally opened as the “Natatorium”.
Other than the Giant Dipper roller coaster, also located at the Belmont Park, The Mission Beach Plunge is the only remaining structure to survive from the original Belmont Park. It’s had over 1 million people learn to swim in its pool, including celebrities Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller.
Eventually in 1940, when the salt-water began to damage the filter system in the pool, fresh water was brought in and The Plunge became “The largest indoor heated pool in Southern California,” at 12,000 square feet. The pool continued to run smoothly, but was closed in April of 1987 due to failed city earthquake and fire requirements. This closure applied to the entire park, including The Giant Dipper and all retail centers located throughout the the property, which eventually reopened in the summer of 1988 with a whole new look.
Though The Plunge endured many modifications, certain features historic to the pool, such as the steps into the pool and the pedestal, located at the bottom of the steps, were rescued and allowed to stay. The “Orcas off Point Loma” whaling wall, painted by world-renowned environmental marine artist, Wyland, in 1989, is another of these existing features (see top of page).
In 2006, Belmont Park underwent additional changes. Today, the Plunge is now a part of Wave House Athletic Club, a health and fitness athletic club geared toward the San Diego beach lifestyle.
Entrance to the Plunge and Bath House.
Diving in the Plunge. Circa 1926
Currently, only the island exists in the shallow area.
The old iron work revealed in the