DESTIN — Almost three years after the facility was abruptly shut down, the former Destin YMCA has reopened as the Destin Aquatics Center.

The pools, run by the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation, officially passed their final inspections and were opened to the public at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.

“I feel like I just had a baby,” Kathi Heapy, the foundation’s co-founder and vice president, joked of the long and challenging process.

“These last couple days with stressing about the inspectors coming and approving it, it’s been like going through labor,” she added, laughing. “We’re very excited."

Destin City Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell said she is thrilled the pools are finally open.

"What makes me the happiest is how the community got together, worked hard and overcame obstacles," Ramswell said.

She said a lot of people thought the aquatic center was ever going to open.

"The community really wanted it and we made it a reality," Ramswell said.

The family pool and eight-lane lap pool were closed in the fall of 2014 after the YMCA of the Emerald Coast declared bankruptcy.

Late last year, the Fitness Foundation got the go-ahead from the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, which owns the facility, to move forward with plans to reopen it.

The last nine months have been spent raising money and making repairs to the long-dormant facility.

“Both pools had to be replastered, a lot of the pump and chlorination equipment had to be fixed and replaced,” Heapy said. “There’s still so much to do; a lot of potential to be realized and a lot of money to be raised to realize that potential.”

Programs that will be run at the Aquatics Center iclude a Master’s swim program, lessons and Coast Aquatics swim team practices, as well as family swim times and lap swim sessions.

For more information on hours and fees, visit