Oak Bay Rec parties like it’s 1975

Clothing and admission prices reflect opening day 40 years ago

Nelly Stock feels she owns this water after 38 years working as a lifeguard and swim and fitness instructor at the Oak Bay Rec Centre. The centre celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend with 1975 drop-in rates.

The 1975 garb comes out this weekend at Oak Bay Rec Centre as the community celebrates four decades of community recreation.

Among them will be the longest-serving staffer, Nelly Stock.

“(The rec centre) opened in October (1975) and I came 18 months later,” she said, adding with a laugh, “I was here for a week already before I filled out my application.”

When Stock moved to the Victoria area from Chilliwack, it didn’t take long for someone at the centre to learn she had all her swim instructor credentials and recruit her. Since then she hasn’t ventured far from the community pool, even during her career as a registered nurse. She’s acted as a lifeguard, swim teacher, fitness leader and these days does primarily one-on-one swim instruction.

When she arrived, the nearly-new pool was state-of-the-art for its time, complete with adjacent tot pool designed to get younger children into the water.

“The first big change was the big blue slide in the ’80s,” she said.

While that one went off without a hitch, the second slide created some controversy in the ’90s. For safety and space reasons, they had to lose the diving board.

“Some people didn’t really like it,” Stock said. “Now I don’t think too many people remember the diving board.”

Many current residents will remember, or have heard of, the big renovations more than a decade ago. The project consisted of a new fitness facility, pool renovations, new family change rooms and new administration area. Throughout the work, residents utilized the facilities.

“That was a big change, it took months, but it was worth it,” Stock said. “Most people think it has added to the rec centre.”

Stock, like many staffers, knows all the regulars by face and many by name. It’s part of the charm that gets the rec centre continuously voted Best of the City by readers of the community newspapers – including Oak Bay News – each year. “This really is a community pool,” she said.

Not only do the regulars recognize her – well enough to shout “hello” as they cycle past on her walk home – but she also knows generations of them.

A recent visit to the steam room (which is, by the way, “very popular”) served as an impromptu reunion with someone who told Stock she taught him to swim – 25 years ago. That longevity, and popularity, means families will seek out Stock for their children’s lessons, remembering the swim instructor of their youth.

“I enjoy my work. When I get up and think, ‘I have to go to work,’ I know it’s time to quit,” she said. “It’s nice to get paid for a hobby.”

Stock keeps busy with classes six days a week, so it’s no surprise she’ll be on hand for the 1975 Celebration: 40th Anniversary of the Oak Bay Recreation Centre on Saturday.

The event includes admission prices four decades old: adults can get in for $1 and children for 50 cents, while tennis court rentals are $5 an hour.

Staff encourage residents to dig out the old wooden racket for authenticity.

On the ice, 1970s music will rule the rink with an everyone welcome skate at 7:30 p.m. Aquafit will also groove and the kids’ fun swims are dubbed “That ‘70s Swim” and “Sunday Night Fever.” The Sports View Lounge will also get into the swing with 1970s TV shows on the big screen and food with a similar theme.

For more information and schedules, visit oakbay.ca/parks-recreation.