The team that started it all... 

Before there were neighborhood pools and Mudrats, there was the 6.2 million gallon Beach.     Originally a limestone quarry in 1833, the abandoned land was purchased in 1931 for $16,500 to honor Naperville’s 100th birthday and “Centennial Beach” was born.  Construction of the beach began in 1932 and the bathhouse built from limestone quarried on site was dedicated in 1934. The beach was home to Naperville’s very first swim teams.   Beginning in the mid 1940’s annual competitive swimming events called “Aquathons” were held at Centennial Beach.

Beach 1930's

Beach 1904's

It is believed Dr. Hal Henning who served as coach at North Central College, president of the World Swimming Federation and Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Committee from 1959 to 1965 popularized competitive swimming in Naperville.    In the 1950’s the Beach was the only recreational swim team in Naperville. The popularity of swimming in Naperville and the Beach swim team in the 1950s led to the rise in neighborhood pools, competitive neighborhood swim meets and what is now the Naperville Swim Conference.   In the mid 1960’s the Naperville Swim Conference began with just four teams: The Beach, Cress Creek, Saybrook and Maplebrook 1. Beginning in 1969 the first ever annual city championship was held. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the City meet and the 50th anniversary of the Naperville Park District managing Centennial Beach (previously managed by City of Naperville).

Where did “Mudrats” come from?

As recalled by Rebecca Pugh, who swam on the Beach swim team in starting in 1972:

There used to be murky water, muck and fish living at the bottom of the deep end of the beach.    “In ‘73 or ‘74, they completely drained the Beach. They filled a couple of dump trucks full of muck from the bottom of the deep end. This murky water had fish living around the sides and To refill the Beach, they pumped water from the Old Quarry (where the paddle boats are), into the Beach.

Before the recirculation system was installed in the late-seventies, they used to treat the water manually. Two people would get in the row boat (what the guards used before their kayak), one person would row and the other would drag a burlap bag full of copper sulfate around the Beach and dunk it along the sides. The copper sulfate killed the algae and turned the blond swimmers’ hair green. The guards would also distribute chlorine tablets around the beach from the back of the boat."

1973 Mudrats

(Rebecca Pugh - Bottom Row Left, Chuck Koch - holding beach sign right)

1974 Mudrats

Chuck Koch was the Beach swim team coach the summer they named the Mudrats (1971).   

As Chuck Koch remembers, “Our Mudrat name came from other swimmers that we swam against. In 1971, Scott Nocco was the Assistant Manager of the Beach.   He learned other visiting swimmers from opposing pools called our swimmers, “Mudrats.” He called the swim team kids his “little Mudrats.” From then on the name stuck!”

Since 1971, the Mudrats swim team have since called Centennial Beach their home.  

In 2019, the Mudrats added a competitive water polo team coached by Mark Menis.   The team logos were updated to include a water polo ball and swim lanes supporting both teams.  

For more information on joining the historic Mudrats swim or water polo teams, please visit: napervilleparks.org.   

MUDRAT CHEERS

[Before the circulation system was first installed in the late 70's, the Mudrats used to agitiate other teams by dumping unfiltered beach water into the other teams' pools.  This is the ensuing beach water cheer still happening today...]

Beach Water   (Bill Boe, coach, early 70's)


Coach: Are those not the backstroke flags?
Mudrats: Yes, those are the backstroke flags!
Coach: Are those not the starting blocks?
Mudrats: Yes, those are the starting blocks!
Coach: Is this not the Beach water?
Mudrats: Yes, this is the Beach water! Go Beach, go! Go Beach, go! Go Beach, go! Go Beach, go!

Bananas   (Bill Boe, coach, early 70's)


Go bananas, go, go banana-nanas B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Go bananas, go, go banana-nanas B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
GO BANANAS!

E-I-E-I-E-I-O
Coaches: E-I-E-I-E-I-O
Mudrats: E-I-E-I-E-I-O
Coaches: C’mon Mudrats, let’s go!
Mudrats: C’mon Mudrats, let’s go!
Coaches: Scooby-dooby-dooby-doo
Mudrats: Scooby-dooby-dooby-doo
Coaches: Uh-oh-uh-oh
Mudrats: Uh-oh-uh-oh
(repeat louder)
Boogie Boogie
Coach: Mudrats, Mudrats, are you ready?
Mudrats: Ready!
Coach: Mudrats, Mudrats, are you ready?
Mudrats: Ready!!
Boogie, boogie, boogie, a boogie down,
Boogie, boogie, boogie, a boogie down.
(repeat)
Chant
Everywhere we go, people want to know,
Who we are, so we tell them:
We are the Mudrats, the mighty, mighty Mudrats!
Everywhere we go, people want to know,
Who we are, so we tell them:
We are the Mudrats!

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