By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Wednesday, March 11, 2020
USA Swimming’s Build a Pool (BAP) Conference has inspired many coaches, swim parents and organizations to develop new aquatic facilities across the U.S., which benefits not only the athletes and the residents, but also the surrounding communities.
In 2013, a group of swimmer parents in the Capital Region of New York attended the BAP Conference and set a goal to build a new aquatic center. Seven years later, the Capital Region Aquatic Center’s (formerly named the Adirondack Aquatic Center) $30 million project has gained much-needed momentum and is anticipated to be completed in Schenectady, N.Y., within 2 years.
The Capital Region Aquatic Center Board of Directors will manage the new facility as a non-profit organization with help from numerous partners and donors in the community. The state-of-the-art establishment will include four pools (a 50-meter competition pool, an 8-lane instruction pool, a 25-yard by 25-yard diving well, and a therapy pool), diving platforms, upper deck seating for 1,200 people, deck space to hold at least 600 athletes around the competitive pool, and FINA approved standards for local, regional and national aquatic competitions.
The Board came together with the dream for a new aquatic center after many years of watching swim teams, synchronized swim organizations, dive teams and many other programs struggle to find pool time. The BAP Conference helped the board conceptualize their vision and actually turn their idea into an achievable venture.
“We learned that you need to do your design according to what you want to program. There are four pillars for aquatic facilities. There is learn to swim, aquatic therapy, adult fitness and competition. Some aquatic facilities emphasize one or the other or don’t have adult fitness or a therapy pool. Our board came together and said, ‘If we’re going to build this, we want to be able to offer as much as we can to the community and gain as much economic impact that we can,’” said Board Secretary, Laura Davis.
The budgeting for the project came from many supporters including the swim community, the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, Wright Family Foundation, a USA Swimming grant, and many local business partners.
“We’ve had many supporters along the way—financially and with their time—that have really made a difference in keeping the project going,” Davis said.
Although there are numerous pools in Schenectady and the Capital Region, a large number of them are outdoors, which are only available for a short season in the northeast. In addition, the remaining pools are attached to high schools, colleges, or YMCAs that were built for specific user groups. Laura Davis expanded on their need for a larger aquatic center in the vicinity.
“The new facility will add to the pool time that is already around. The center will crave utilization and will be able to offer ongoing flexibly timed swimming lessons, adult fitness classes, diving lessons, and lifeguard training. In addition, we will be able to train long course meters. We have had so much interest from the USA Swimming teams to train long course meters in the summer time.”
“We don’t have a 50-meter pool in our area,” she said. “The closest one is 2 ½ hours away. That was definitely a motivator for us. We thought that would help our sport grow if there was an Olympic-sized pool in our region.”
Currently, the Capital Region’s Adirondack Swimming District cannot even host its championship meets at one pool due to overcrowding. The championship and district meets have to be divided into two pool locations. In addition, long course meets are held at a 6-lane pool at Colgate University, which can no longer house prelims and finals due to the overcapacity of athletes.
Davis added that the new aquatic center will enhance the area by meeting the needs of numerous swim teams, dive teams, learn-to-swim programs, water therapy groups, and many other activities to promote physical wellness.
“We will be able to offer more lanes for teams to rent space. We have modeled a lot of what we have done in our design around what Greensboro Aquatic Center is doing successfully. They have helped us along the way, and they are so excited to have a pool in the northeast to also offer these regional and national events.”
The new aquatic center will also have hotels, restaurants, and movie theaters within walking distance as well as adequate parking to meet the needs of traveling athletes for larger meets.