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Aquatic center marks active first year

POSTED: July 26, 2012 6:30 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

Sissy Bowers, far right, helps Jake Barnes on Wednesday during swim lessons at the Cumming Aquatic Center. The facility is marking its first anniversary.

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It’s been a busy year at the Cumming Aquatic Center.

“I’d say overall, we’ve been very successful,” said Carla Wilson, manager of the center. “There’s been a very positive response from the community. They love the facility and are excited we’re here in Cumming.”

The facility on Pilgrim Mill Road opened last summer to large crowds, which continue today.

“The outdoor pool was obviously very successful last summer,” Wilson said. “Of course, that’s weather-dependent, so last week wasn’t our best week, but overall we’ve been doing very well.”

The outdoor pool, which offers a kids’ splash play area, water slide and lazy river, drew large crowds of more than 2,000 people on the center’s opening day last June.

Since then the numbers have come down, but Wilson said a busy summer day can still attract as many as 950 people.

Greg Little, director of the Cumming Recreation and Parks Department, under which the center falls, said attendance at the facility continues to exceed expectations.

“We were hoping it would be a big success,” he said. “We opened for the summer last year and the outdoor pool was vastly more popular than what we were led to believe it would be from our projections. People were thinking we’d get maybe 500 to 600 people a day.”

During the fall and winter months, when the outdoor pool is closed, the center remained active thanks to its two indoor facilities: a 50-meter competition pool and a physical therapy pool.

Both are open year round for use by the center’s three youth swim teams, Forsyth high school teams and individuals wishing to swim laps or take any of the center’s numerous classes.

The facility also played host to several swim meets and other events during its first year.

“We hosted a couple of water polo tournaments this past year,” she said. “We didn’t really anticipate having water polo in here that soon, so that was exciting.

“We have several more and larger [high school] meets booked for this year … and just speaking to the coaches at the end of the season, just from having the facility here, they think their teams will potentially grow.”

Wilson said she’s proud of the growth in the center’s programming in a year.

“Our water exercise classes started in September 2011 and we’re at the point where we need to possibly look at adding some classes,” she said.

Wilson noted that among some of the more popular exercise courses are aqua sculpt, Zumba and those for individuals with arthritis.

She said since opening, swim lessons for all ages have “continued to grow and grow and grow.”

“We teach all age ranges from parent and child [classes] to our adult stroke development and our private lessons,” she said. “We teach all sorts of individuals from little ones up to an 84-year-old lady who took private lessons and learned to swim.”

Throughout the center’s growth, it has also added more staff members.

Wilson said it employs five full-time staff members and numerous part-time lifeguards, front-desk receptionists and class instructors.

“Because our programming has grown so much, we’ve got about 70 on staff right now, whereas last year it was around 50,” she said.

Little said he’s happy to have those employees.

“The whole crew out there has just done an outstanding job of organizing and planning and scheduling, and making it into the success that we’ve continued to see since we opened,” he said.

“We’re still excited about [the center]. We’re still learning on a daily basis and the good thing about our group out there is they’re willing to learn and if they see something needs adapting or adjusting, they’re not afraid to do it.”

 

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