After being open for nearly a year, the Destin Aquatic Center is doing just fine.
Since the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation reopened the pools in August 2017, Kathi Heapy, the treasurer of the foundation, said they've learned a lot and have seen a lot more people participate in programs and swim teams, including visitors to the area.
Heapy said one of the most surprising things they had to do was institute a weekly rate because they had so many visitors here on vacation who wanted to swim laps.
"We had one lady come in ... and she was looking for a place to swim laps, " Heapy said. "She had been trying to swim at her condo pool but was getting tired of having to dodge people. So when I told her she could swim here, she started to cry she was so happy. "
The aquatic center used to be the Destin YMCA pool before it declared bankruptcy and shut down in 2014. In January of 2017, the Emerald Coast Fitness Center started began raising funds and reopened the pools on Aug. 15, 2017.
Heapy said they're "in the black," but would still love to have more contributions for future projects. Planned improvements include geothermal heating and cooling for the pool water, converting all the electrical fixtures to LED and paving the parking lot.
"We want to pave the parking lot or part of it, or grate it or something, " she said. "We are just waiting on Santa Claus in a big truck to come and take care of that because we are routinely filling up that parking space."
The center hosts local swim team practices, meets, swim classes and lifeguard training. The center also started the first Destin Summer League swim team this year and had over 90 kids join to compete against other local teams.
In the future, Heapy said they would like to find a way to enclose the family pool so it can operate all year long, as well as build a 50-meter, Olympic-size pool with all the bells and whistles.
But for now, the center is doing really well.
"We've learned a lot and had a lot of fun and met new people," Heapy said. "We just need continued support from the community and more people."
For more information on hours and fees, visit ecfitnessfoundation.org.