Cypress Gardens Lake House Honors Local Water-Skiing Legacy with New Florida Pool Open House
by James Coulter
More than 70 years ago, Dick Pope introduced water skiing to Winter Haven through Cypress Gardens. More than 70 years later, his legacy was honored with an attempt to break the world record for “Largest Swivel Line” and with the unveiling of the New Florida Pool during an open house on Friday.
Nearly 40 female water skiers took to the waters of Lake Eloise on Friday afternoon in an attempt to break the world record for “Largest Swivel Line.” The swivel ski is a wide body single ski that rides forward while the binding turns (swivels) on the ski. Itis known as the ballet of water skiing.
The water ski display was part of the 3rd Chain of Records Event, organized by Winter Haven resident Geno Yachter, to set nearly a dozen towed watersports records for Guinness and the National Show Skiing Association. To break the swivel line record, skiers had to hold the two different backwards positions for five seconds each. One attempt had 30 skiers, and another had 40. Currently, the records are pending.
The swivel line record attempt was hosted at Cypress Gardens Lake House (CGLH), a waterfront home on the scenic shores of Lake Eloise, owned by residents Tony & Tanya Klarich. The event took place during their open house event, where they unveiled to the public their recreation of the famous Florida pool that was located at Cypress Gardens.
“In the same manner as Pope, the New Florida Pool at the CGLH will be filled with local citrus for this event, thanks to Always Fresh Farms located in Winter Haven and Florida Classic, located in Lake Hamilton,” their press release read.
Located along Lake Eloise, Cypress Gardens Lake House pays tribute to Winter Haven’s rich water-skiing history, with rooms decorated with water skiing memorabilia and amenities including the Florida Pool and a mural of Cypress Gardens. Tony Klarich originally intended to retire at the lakeside house within the next two to five years. However, he and his wife have since converted the property into an Airbnb rental for the time being.
Tony himself is a water-skiing prodigy. As his press release stated: “Tony Klarich is a Hall of Fame Water Skier will 11 National and Worlds Titles in kneeboarding, hydrofoiling, wakeboarding, and show Skiing. Also known as ‘The Guy who Skis on Anything’, Klarich rode 50 different items in 1 day to celebrate turning 50 years old.”
Klarich decided to dedicate his property and unveil it to the public through an open house on Friday, which hosted the swivel line record break attempt and the dedication of the New Florida Pool. As the swivel chair was invented in Winter Haven, it was only fitting that a shot at a swivel line record would be hosted there as well, he said.
“To be able to break a swivel record on the lake the swivel was invented on, so many years ago, that is so important to this community, it is more than a record, it is heart felled,” he said. “I think it was a culmination of what we dreamed about this house, in particular, which is a gathering place for skiers to come create new records and new ways to ski.”
His wife and him plan to retire at the Cypress Gardens Lake House. Until then, they plan on renting it out through Airnb. They hope that guests not only enjoy the scenic lakeside view, but also learn and better appreciate the rich history of water-skiing that the lake has become famous for.
“It is a place to come and enjoy the lake, enjoy the history of what happened here,” he said. “We are just so thankful we are part of a great community in a lot of ways that was started by Dick Pope with Cypress Gardens. So we are not only honoring and preserving the tradition, we are carrying on the torch for him into the future, and that started for us today.”