On January 11 Lancaster High School hosted its first swim meet at the Northern Neck Family YMCA’s Monroe Family Aquatic Center.

The $3.1 million aquatic center at the Northern Neck Family YMCA in Kilmarnock is proving to be a draw and helping the organization expand its bonds with the community.

Because there’s so much water in the Northern Neck, the YMCA’s Kilmarnock branch has made it a mission to promote aquatics for wellness, for sport and for family entertainment. The vision included building an aquatic complex unlike anything available in the area, and that plan has evolved into the Monroe Family Aquatic Center, which features a six-lane, ADA-accessible indoor pool that opened November 9.

Since then, the facility has started offering more aqua fitness classes, including a new deep water aerobics class that’s held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30-9:30 am. The branch is also offering an expanded variety of swim lessons for members and non-members, which include parent/child lessons, preschool lessons, youth beginner lessons as well as teen and teen/adult swim lessons.

The Kilmarnock branch has added 90 memberships since the pool’s grand opening, and about half of those can be directly related to the pool, said Will Bridges, program director for aquatics and sports at the Northern Neck Family YMCA.

 “We have [also] seen an increase of members from surrounding YMCAs visiting the pool. Members have come from Richmond County, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Middlesex, and Mathews,” he added.

Community Relationships

In its short history, the aquatic center is already proving to be a beneficial community resource. Bridges said it has helped the YMCA develop and strengthen its relationship with Lancaster High School and Christchurch High School. Both have seen growth in their swim teams, and the indoor pool, which was designed for competitive swimming, gave LHS a facility to hold a home swim meet. 

In addition to promoting water activity, the Northern Neck YMCA decided to invest so heavily in aquatics to play a role in reducing the number of deaths by drowning. One way it plans to do so is by creating initiatives for commercial watermen. In April, for example, the facility will host a Safety Around Water Course for over 100 Omega Protein employees, marking the first time the branch has partnered or engaged in training with the company.

There’s more to come

The aquatic center will also offer visitors access to a beach-style, ADA-accessible outdoor pool with a two-story, double-turn slide. The YMCA is planning to purchase patio furniture for the outdoor recreation area and tentatively open the outdoor pool Saturday, May 23 during Memorial Day weekend.

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