Still doing swimmingly after all these years

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By Kirsten Laskey

Twenty years ago, there was no year-round community pool in Los Alamos. The community shared a small pool with Los Alamos High School, but the public’s use was restricted because of the high school swimmers’ busy schedules.

A group of citizens decided to change the situation. So, in 1984, a group of Los Alamos residents talked to the county recreation board about building a community pool, said Frederica Smith, aquatic center sub-committee and parks and recreation board member.

The result of the group’s and county’s efforts was the aquatic center, which opened in April 1988. Saturday, the pool celebrated its 20th anniversary.

A number of activities, including water volleyball, water polo, lifeguard safety demonstrations and a birthday cake were a part of the celebrations.

Several staff members said they were proud of what the pool has been able to accomplish in 20 years.

“I’ve been here a year,” said Denise McCoy, aquatic manager, “and to me I think it’s a great success for an Olympic-size pool to accomplish what they have.”

She said that for a community of our size, it is impressive how “international teams use our facilities for high-altitude training.”

Smith, who has has been involved with the pool since 1984, said the pool, offers “lots of different activities for kids. (The staff) teaches hundreds and hundreds of kids how to swim ee something they can do their whole lives. We’ve reached a lot of adults ee We have lots of fun things to do, for children and adults alike.”

She added, the pool is “always here;” it is opened year round and for about 70 hours a week. Attendance at the pool will reach up to an average of 100,000 yearly, Smith said.

“Los Alamos is a swimming community,” McCoy said.

It is used for swimming lessons, for swim team practices and for fun events, such as Warm Water Weekends.

“I just think it’s a wonderful facility,” Anna Galvan of customer service support, said. “We just love it here. It’s a great facility and it’s a great town.”

While the center staff is proud of their accomplishments, there is still more they would like to achieve.

In the original plan, the center included the therapy pool, the 50-meter swimming pool and a children’s pool. Due to budget reasons, Smith said, the children’s pool was cut but the staff is still working to add it.

McCoy said the hope is to have an indoor, recreational facility that will feature multiple designs such as slides, standing wave surfing and “year-round fun.”

Although this facility isn’t currently offered, Smith said she is impressed with the state of the aquatic center. “I think its physically in very good shape,” she said. Smith added the staff work hard to make sure everything “sparkles.”

Plus, having a 50-meter pool allows for multiple activities to go on at once, Smith said, something a standard-size pool can’t really allow.

All in all, Smith said her main wish is simply to see the pool continue to operate. “I hope I’m around to see it hit its 50th,” she said.