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Ladies In Wading

How a synchronized team of “Dolphinettes” brought Vero Beach its first, heady days in the national spotlight

Dolphinettes with their signature car at the Windswept Hotel pool.

Dolphinettes with their signature car at the Windswept Hotel pool.

In honor of our 20-year anniversary, we’ve pulled 12 favorite stories from our archives to share with you each month.
This one is excerpted from an article about the Vero Beach Dolphinettes, which appeared in Summer 1999 issue.

– Editor

Today, Vero Beach is known for many things: Dodgertown, Piper Aircraft, an emphasis on cultural activities such as Riverside Theatre and the Vero Beach Museum of Art. But if you’ve never heard of Millie Bunnell and the Dolphinettes, you don’t know how and when the city first got to be famous.

Back in 1951, Vero Beach was still a sleepy seaside town with a population of 5,000. There was only one telephone exchange, and when you crossed the Indian River on the old wooden bridge you had to be careful not to run over flopping fish — or the fishermen. The barrier island was still a semi-deserted canopy of trees with a few homes and businesses dotting the landscape.

In those days, most folks lived on the mainland and came to the island to swim in the Atlantic Ocean or in the pool of the Windswept Hotel, which was located where the Holiday Inn now stands. Fred Tuerk and Nelson Plamondon, the Windswept’s owners, were justifiably proud of their pool, and in November 1951 the hotel manager sent out an invitation to local residents to join a new “Pool Club.” Seasonal fees were $25 for a single, $35 for husband and wife and a whopping $40 for an entire family.

The invitation also announced the appointment of a Miss Mildred Frasier as swimming instructor. “Miss Frasier,” the letter stated, “will be on duty to supervise the safety and pleasure of our guests and their families. Children of members will be eligible to take part in a water ballet to be presented during the season.”