April 22, 2010


I grew up in a subdivision called Briarwood and across the road was a swim club called Plantation Country Club. Known simply as 'Plantation', it had a fifty meter pool divided on one end by a bulk head. On the other side was the sixteen foot diving well and the diving tower which had thiry-three and sixteen foot diving platforms.

I used to do some crazy stuff off those platforms. You first worked up the nerve to jump and proceeded to can-openers, butt-busters, cannon-balls, flips, and suicides. I could do it all except anything involving my back to the diving well. It gave me the heebie-jeebies.

I was on the Plantation Swim Team, which at the time was the biggest and best swim team in the Eastern United States. The head coach was Ralph Wright who founded Plantation in 1957. He was quite the swimmer in his day, breaking many records. He swam at the age of 15 being only one of 14 swimmers to swim the perilous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco's Bay at the dedication of the bridge in 1937.

I remember, after swimming one of my first events on the team and doing poorly, Ralph Wright was there to pull me out of the pool, told me my time and encouraged me to remember it and improve upon it. At the time I didn't even know who he was.

It wasn't long after that, Ralph Wright was shot to death in Plantation's parking lot in 1966. He was shot by an unstable man who was angry about his son not getting a job at Plantation's dining room. He was eventually convicted and went to prison for the murder. I was only eleven years old but I remember the shooting well, although I had to call my parents to get the details.


  1. Wow. I remember Plantation Swimming Club. Mary....can not think of her last name (even though she is plastered on one of the buildings on 64 - lol)went to the Olympics from that club. Lexington had a club called GLAC. It brings back dozens of memories. I swam on a team called Woodamere in Versailles. I swam/competed from the time I was around 10 or so until highschool. I think 16 was the cut off age for summer teams and that's as long as I lasted. I believe my personal best was 7th in the Highschool Championships help at the pool in Memorial Colesium in Lex. I did not know about your friend. In '66 I was still very young....too.

  2. AnonymousMay 29, 2010

    I lived in Lousiville and remeber the Plantation . I remember too jumping off that high platform when I was just 8 or 9 yrs old with my heart in my throat.

    I also remember swimming under and up into the foot brigeway that seperated the swim pool from the dive pool.

    didn't some kid drown once there doing just that??

  3. Ralph Wright taught me to swim. He put the fire under my butt that made me love it. He was a wonderful person and patient teacher. Think of him all the time. Swam with PCC until we moved to Florida at the age of 16...a horrible time in my life. The memories of him and the diving boards and swimming at Plantation are wonderful.

  4. Believe it or not Ralph was my Grandfather. I lived in Texas and visited Kentucky to see my cousins every summer, and have fond memories of the pool as well.
    -Doug Wright

  5. AnonymousJune 11, 2011

    I went to school with Ralph's daughter, Mary, at St. Leonard's..best pals for the short time she and I were there. Was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight and was Google earth walking thru my old neighborhood of Rolling Hills. Somehow came across the sad news of Plantation's demise and then somehow landed on your blog.Never knew the details of Mary's dad's tragic death til now .. I always was too afraid to bring it up to her. Enjoyed your touching post about him...

  6. Plantation swimmer 1957-1971July 25, 2012

    I could go on and on about Ralph. I adored him and he, his wife "Babe" (real name = Violet) and my parents were close friends. My brother and I swam on Plantation throughout our elementary, Jr. High and High School years. My brother was a lifeguard and was closing up the pool on the evening of November 1, 1966. His was the last friendly face Ralph Wright ever saw. Then Ralph got into his car and that was when the horror began. I remember the phone call asking if Ralph was at our house. He was missing. Then we got the worse news. I think about Ralph all the time. I have a picture of him as the background on my laptop screen. I adored him, respected him, listened to him, appreciated him, and have missed him for all these years. A truly good man.