Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation’s efforts to reopen the former Destin YMCA pool facility has become a reality.
The Destin Aquatics Center’s doors officially opened for business on Tuesday and will give the community a place to go for swimming lessons, exercise and recreational use.
The center has been closed since the local YMCA declared bankruptcy and shutdown in 2014. The Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation secured a contract with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation to take over the pools and have been raising money since January.
“We are open for business, but we are still a work in process,” said Pam Braseth, the foundation’s secretary. “Most good facilities are always a work in progress.”
Braseth said the locker rooms' air conditioning and heating still needs to be fixed and they still need a stainless steel rod that is used to take the thermal covers off and on from the pools. The two installations will cost the center about $33,000.
“The good thing is that we are open and people are swimming,” she said. “Swims teams, lap swimmers and everyone waiting to use the pools are excited.”
Visitors can choose from a variety of programs, which include master’s team practice, family swim, lap swim and swim lessons. The Coast Aquatics swim team will also have their practices at the eight-lane lap pool and there will also be available space for Destin Elementary School and Destin Middle School swims teams to practice.
Walking in on Thursday to register for the lap swim program, John Boycin said he lives nearby and it’s very convenient for his daily workout routines.
“This is a great asset to the city of Destin. I have been swimming all of my life and it's a cardiovascular workout that does not cause tremendous stress on your joints,” said the 79-year-old, who plans to swim at least three times a week. “A combination of exercising at the gym and swimming laps is what keeps me going.”
Ginny Ballard said she has been tracking the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation's progress on Facebook for a while wondering when the center will officially open.
“My daughter is in the Coast Aquatics and Destin Middle School’s swim teams. Now she will have a place to go to for training,” she said.
Ballard, who will also visit three times a week, said she likes the idea that the pools are also heated and outside.
“We can even enjoy sunshine and fresh air during the winter time,” she said. “You can also swim at any age and Destin kids need to learn how to swim, especially with the Gulf being at our backyard. It’s a safety issue.”
For more information about swimming programs and schedules, call 850-837-7946