About The Riviera Club
The Riviera Club: Great Families, Great Place, Great Life.
The Riviera Club is a quality family-oriented social and recreational club dedicated to maintaining a safe, wholesome, and friendly environment.
The Riviera Club (“Rivi”) was founded and incorporated on January 12, 1933 by esteemed Indianapolis businessman Mr. James H. Makin. Mr. Makin started the Club’s charter membership with pure social networking. He met with 10 friends at the nearby Butler University Campus Club and asked them each to bring 10 friends and request that each of their 10 friends do the same, and so the trend began. His goal was to meet the magic number 1,000 Members he needed.
The early 1930s were a trying period economically. This was mainly because of the bank crisis and the Great Depression. Therefore, many of the ten friends and their ten friends were unable to meet their pledge. Mrs. Makin saved the Club, by putting up her life savings of $10,000, and became a full partner in the founding of the Riviera Club.
The groundbreaking took place on April 1, 1933. The building of the Clubhouse structure only took 48 days but flooding of the White River collapsed the forms for the walls of the big pool. Fortunately, the pool did open on June 9, 1933 with Governor Paul V. McNutt and Indianapolis Mayor Reginald H. Sullivan in attendance. The purpose of the Club was broader than most private clubs as it was to provide social and recreational facilities, which could be enjoyed by all family members regardless of age. The club started with dancing, gymnastics, shuffleboard tournaments, card parties, a camera club, and a bowling association that became one of the largest in the U.S. Of course, aquatics was the main focus.
In August of 1950, the Club purchased additional property. Rivi’s campus now consists of 21 acres that play host to three outdoor pools, two indoor pools, eight tennis courts, an outdoor basketball court, a gymnasium and an outdoor shelter. Meanwhile, the Clubhouse building holds the fitness center and ballroom/dining rooms. The main outdoor pool is one of the largest in the country, larger than a football field, and holds 1,300,000 gallons of water. On a hot, busy day over 50,000 gallons can evaporate. The main pool also contains 10-lane 50 meter course and a 5-lane 25 yard course. A diving tank with underwater windows was added in 1957. It had become apparent it could no longer be safely operated. With the pool renovations of 2018, 2019, and 2020, the dive tank was replaced with a 13 foot deep diving well with the 1 meter and 3 meter diving boards.
Located on the north side of Indianapolis, Rivi has been a centerpiece of the Midtown area for many decades. Under its published Mission Statement, Membership is open to “people of good humor and high character…without regard to gender, religious or ethnic background.” A variety of programs are available to Members including USA Swimming-accredited swim teams, swim lessons and aquatic classes for adults and children, an ever-expanding selection of fitness classes, tennis options, days camps, dining and other activities, with some offerings open to the general public. The Riviera Club is a 501(c)7 not-for-profit Member-owned recreational and social club, with a 501(c)3 arm, supported by 2200 families. It is a place for everyone, a truly inclusive and unique club representative of the many diverse neighborhoods and individuals around us. Today the Riviera Club is a welcoming family-friendly environment for people of any background.
- The Club’s first swim instructor Euphrasia Donnelly won the 1924 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal in Paris, France.
- In 1940, Rivi swimmer Patty Aspinal Reel’s national swimming records won her a spot on the U.S Olympic team in Helsinki, Finland, but the games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944 because of WWII.
- Swimming coaches Johnny Galvich and Gene Lee led the teams to over 400 trophies
- In 1959, Riviera Club Swim Team Member Becky Collins captured the National Senior Outdoor Championship in several categories, setting world records. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine as a U.S. Olympic Swimmer.
- Rivi swimmer Kathy Ellis won the 1961 US Nationals. In 1963 Ellis won gold in the the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil and then turned around and set a new world record for the 100-meter butterfly in the US Nationals. In 1964, Kathy Ellis went four-for-four in medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
- Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Governor Mitch Daniels worked in the Beach Stand and former Indiana Governor and Senator Evan Bayh and his family were regular visitors to the pools.
- From 1980 to 2004, Rivi Swimmer Trischa Zorn became the most decorated Paralympian in the history of the Games with a total of 46 medals. She won a record 32 gold medals across a range of events and categories.
- Riviera Club was the host of one of the World’s Largest Swim Lesson offered on June 18, 2015 with over 75 children participating.