Olympic pool comes to Chesterfield for Aquatic Center

The long awaited delivery of the 2008 Olympic Trials Pool from Omaha, Neb., to its new home at the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership Aquatics Center took place on Monday at Ukrop Park, located at the intersection of Chippenham Parkway and Ironbridge Road.

The delivery of the 50-meter pool is a major milestone in the growth of aquatic offering to the area by the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership’s (GRAP). The facility is currently scheduled to open in February 2012.

The pool, purchased by Poseidon Swimming at the conclusion of the Trials, has been in storage in Omaha.  This special pool started its long journey in Castiglione, Italy, the home of the manufacturer, Myrtha Pools, to the Quest Center for the Trials.

“The fastest pool in the nation,” said Bobby Ukrop, president of the Greater Richmond Partnership, during the welcoming event at the park.  “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. Currently, the YMCA runs programs for 35 of the more than 120 elementary schools in the area. That means 70 percent 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 Trials pool, which saw nine world records, 21 American records and 17 U.S. Open records set by Olympic athletes. 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. The facility will also 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.

The Aquatics Center will cost an estimated $14 million to build. To date, the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership raised all but the $4 million needed to finish construction, and is kicking off a capital campaign to raise these funds.  For more information about the Richmond Aquatics Center, visit www.greaterrichmondaquaticspartnership.org.

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