In June 2nd, 1933, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the first swimming pool to be built inside the White House.
What’s the big deal about a pool being built inside the White House?
FDR was diagnosed with infantile paralysis, better known as polio, in 1921, at the age of 39. Although dealing with this crippling disease was difficult, many believe that his personal struggles helped shape FDR, both as a man and as a president, but how did FDR get polio?
During the summer of 1921, FDR was enjoying a day of sailing on his yacht when he suddenly fell overboard into the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy, which ironically felt paralyzing to his body. The following day, FDR complained of lower back pain and went for a swim in hopes to ease the soreness. As the day progressed, he could feel his legs becoming weaker and by the third day, he could no longer hold his own weight. His skin quickly became very sensitive and eventually even a slight breeze across his body would cause him great distress.
It was during fall of 1921, when FDR made the decision to remove himself from political life in order to begin his rehabilitation process at his home in Hyde Park, New York. For several years, his main focus shifted from politics to recovering from his paralysis. FDR began routinely swimming three times a week in the Astor pool and in the pond.
Today’s YouTube presentation shared by user name, footage farm, where you’ll see FDR in his passion for his disabilities to help others with his same affliction and swimming helped him deal with is disabilities.
He had realized that his legs could support the weight of his body in water with ease and used swimming as his main exercise, which is why on June 2nd 1933 he decided to build an indoor pool at the White House to help with rehabilitation during his presidency.
Since there was no cure for polio at that time, swimming is an excellent form of low impact aerobic conditioning that is easy on the back and spine. Unlike running or many other forms of aerobic exercise, with swimming there is practically no impact on the spinal structures. The water supports the body, relieving stress on all joints in the body.
If you exercise carefully and give your body a chance to recover, you are upping your chances of a successful rehabilitation. Quite often bad backs are produced from too much strain and too little recovery.
If you never been to the White House the location of the pool was built inside the west gallery between the White House and the West Wing in place of the old laundry rooms, which were moved to the basement of the mansion. Arched ceilings and high rows of half-mooned windows surrounded the rectangular pool. French doors opened into the Rose Garden.
The president’s pool was a modern-day showcase of technology, featuring underwater lighting, sterilizers and the latest gadgets. For several years, Franklin D Roosevelt used it multiple times a day to help endure his polio. Harry Truman swam in it frequently with his glasses on.
In lieu of today’s story, and summer just around the corner, try some casual swimming to help that bothersome lower back pain you might get every so often.
Sometimes the natural way of doing things helps your body rebuild itself the way it was meant to be.
Written and Designed by JD Mitchell