Via International Swimming Hall of Fame President and CEO Bruce Wigo
The Life of Pi was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won 4, including Best Director for Ang Lee. It also is a great promotion for swimming, for if the lead character, Piscines Molitor Patel (Pi for short), had not known how to swim, the story would have ended prematurely.
The film also provides an interesting backstory into the history of a famous swimming pool. For as Pi explains in his narration, he was given his name by his Francophile father, who named him after the eponymous Art Nouveau Parisian swimming pool, the Piscines Auteuil-Molitor.
Completed in 1929 and designed by architect Lucein Pollet, the pool resembled an ocean liner along the Seine and was adorned with Art Deco stained glass. It was opened and inaugurated by American Olympic greats and International Swimming Hall of Famers Johnny Weissmuller and Aileen Riggin. Weissmuller and Riggin were famous in France not only for their athletic accomplishments, but also for the watershow act they performed for French audiences at the Piscine des Tourelles on off times during the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. So, they were both celebrities in France well before Weissmuller became known as Tarzan (which debuted in 1931).
Over the years, the pool hosted fashion shows, theatrical performances and, in 1946, the unveiling of the bikini. While the magic of computer generated graphics created scenes in the film of the pool from it glory days in the 1950’s, this pool later fell into disrepair, was closed in 1989 and nearly torn down until public protests saved it. Finally, after decades of bickering and indecision, major renovations that include a health spa, four-star hotel, restaurants and shopping are underway, with a reopening of this historic swimming pool scheduled for 2014.
About the International Swimming Hall of Fame
The International Swimming Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Our mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of children. We will accomplish this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to the history, memory, and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers, and persons involved in life saving activities and education, throughout the world, whose lives and accomplishments will serve to inspire, educate, and be role models for all those who participate in the Hall of Fame’s experience and programs.
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