In the mid to late 1950s I was a member of the Dolphin Club which had its main facility at Aquatic Park. I was in high school at that time and was probably one of the youngest members of the Dolphin Club. At Lake Merced, the Dolphin Club had a boat house on the south lake, just to the east of what I remember as a small restaurant and maybe a bait shop, as well as boat rentals. I can't remember all what was there.
The Dolphin Club boathouse was a small building maybe fifteen or twenty feet by forty feet. I remember it had a shower and toilet in the back corner. All of the club's racing shells and other equipment were stored there. I would imagine that the club had some arrangement with the Park and Recreation Department to use the boathouse. I remember that sometimes a Park and Recreation crew would grade and repair the path that led down to the lake and a floating dock.
I remember the boat house very well. My God-father, Tom Troneum, was the rowing coach for the Dolphin Club and he had me out there most Saturdays and some evenings in the summer rowing either in a single shell or in a double with someone else. I remember for a while there were some former crew members from the University of California that would use the eight oared shells that were there.
A few times, when rowing, I would catch a 'crab' and end up in the lake. So I can also say that I have swam in Lake Merced; however not by choice.
In addition to rowing, there was also the repair of the boats. I learned a lot from Tom how to repair the boats or rather the shells.
When the new boathouse facility was built at Lake Merced, the Dolphin Club lost their small building. The Club then used the lower part of the new facility for the storage of their rowing equipment. This new facility was named for Tom Troneum, in recognition for the effort he put out over the years to sustain rowing on Lake Merced.
In later years my connection with Lake Merced was limited to walking around the lake. This was when we lived for a while on 31st Avenue near Ulloa.