Area Groups and Community Leaders Come Together to Make Swimming More Accessible to Richmond
An unprecedented number of area organizations and community leaders are coming together to elevate the sport of swimming while giving greater access to swim lessons and water safety education to youth in the region. The Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership, which merges some of our area’s finest education and sports organizations including Collegiate School, Trinity Episcopal School, Poseidon Swimming, Richmond Kickers Youth Soccer Club and Sports Backers, today announced the construction of the new Aquatics Center.
One of the primary goals of the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership is to establish programs for Richmond’s underserved youth who do not currently have access to swim lessons. With an estimated 60% of minority kids not able to swim, the new Aquatics Center has as its goal the ability to offer accessible programs for area youth while promoting health and wellness among all area residents.
"With nearly 158,000 children under the age of nine in metro Richmond, offering a swim education program is vital for the safety and physical fitness of our kids," said Bobby Ukrop, President, Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership. "Currently, the YMCA runs programs for 35 of the more than 120 elementary schools in the area. That means 70% of our schools are not participating in any kind of swim program. My fellow team members and I are hoping to close that gap while at the same time elevating swimming as a lifelong participatory sport among the million residents of our region."
At over 50,000 Square Feet, the Aquatics Center will feature three pools including the pool used at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE where some of our country's best swimmers set many national records. This 50-meter eight-lane competition pool with moveable bulkheads will be the cornerstone of the center. Aquatics Center patrons will also have access to a therapy pool and a 25-yard warm water pool available for lessons and other water sports. A vast 7,000 square foot mezzanine grandstand will seat up to 700 spectators.
Construction of the Aquatics Center is slated for later this month and is expected to take ten months. The facility will boast a community room, an indoor fitness facility, ample parking, locker rooms and plenty of storage space. In the future, it will offer a 5,000 square foot space for physical therapy and rehabilitation services. Membership fees for use of the fitness and pool facilities will be announced at a later date.
The Aquatics Center will also provide an economic boost to the region. With the ability to host significant swim competitions-- high school local and state swim meets; local, state and regional club swim meets sanctioned by Virginia and USA Swimming--the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership anticipates the facility will bring over $2 million to the area annually through sports tourism.
Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of the Sports Backers said, "The economic benefits go beyond the $2 million annual economic impact of events held at the pool, but bring an immeasurable benefit to Richmond by raising the confidence of our kids who will take part in these new swimming opportunities provided by the Center. We are looking forward to being able to fuel the local economy and develop the youth of the region—all at the same time.”
The Aquatics Center will be located in Ukrop Park, near the intersection of Chippenham Parkway and Route 10 in Chesterfield County, and will cost an estimated $14 million to build. To date, the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership has raised all but the $4 million needed to finish construction and is kicking off a capital campaign to raise these funds.
"The Aquatics Center will be a wonderful addition to Ukrop Park and the perfect complement to the Kickers’ dream of providing a sports venue that entertains, invites community participation and inspires our residents," said Leigh Cowlishaw, Director of Soccer/Head Coach, Richmond Kickers Pro Team. "Sports provide countless character building moments and offer the perfect vehicle to teach life skills to nurture the next generation of role models for our community."
A Campaign Cabinet of some of Richmond's most influential leaders has been assembled to see this vision come to life. Some of the members include Bill Axselle, Bobby Ukrop, Marcus Weinstein, John Watkins, Fred Tattersall, Shawn Boyer, Tom Chewning, Keith Evans, Mary Doswell, Rob Estes, Jon Lugbill, Jerry Fox, Palmer Garson, Bruce Heilman, Jim Holland, Stephanie Kirksey, Bryce Powell, Tom Rohman, Rick Sharp, Wally Stettinius, Nancy Thomas, Walter Robertson, III, Jim Weinberg, and Marcus Newsome.
For more information about the Aquatics Center, visit www.greaterrichmondaquaticspartnership.org