Before I delve in to my wonderful Kroc Center experience, I think it’s important to emphasize the vision behind the Kroc Center and what it means to the community. Since the check-in process to go for a swim was a bit lengthy, I decided to catch up on the Kroc Center fast facts while we were filling out paperwork. The wonderful lady at the front desk explained to me that Ray and Joan Kroc, who established the Kroc Center, are also the owners of the billion-dollar McDonald industry. Ray and Joan are strong advocates and supporters of the Salvation Army campaign that reaches out to the less fortunate in America. There are over twenty-five Kroc Centers across the nation that are strategically placed in areas that blend different social classes and diversities, one of them located right outside downtown Greenville. Its central location between Main Street and urban neighborhoods make it the perfect location to bridge the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.
Upon walking in to the building, I noticed it’s exquisite architecture and style. It surely surpassed my expectations as an establishment associated with the Salvation Army. My friend Lauren tagged along for the swim as well. After filling our typical paperwork and paying a small fee of $8, the pool and its facilities were ours to play. Walking to the locker rooms, we passed a fully equipped exercise room and two basketball courts. We could tell that this community center was definitely a popular place.
The locker rooms were extremely clean and had showers, bathrooms, and changing areas. I noticed that the stalls were actually made of recycled plastic, which is very innovative and sustainable. Like a typical locker room, it exited directly to the pool. The pool was considered a fast pool and had multiple competitive lane lines and cool water temperature with relatively clear water. Not only did the Kroc Center have a six lane competitive pool, but also had a play zone with slides and waterfalls for the more youthful swimmers.
After talking with the lifeguard, I realized that swimmers of all ages, races, and abilities used the pool. Early in the morning before work, many older swimmers would swim for one to two hours, sometimes training for marathons or simply staying active. Later in the day, the Kroc Center hosts a variety of camps for ages 6-14. Most come from lower income black families and are typically worse swimmers than those that come in the pool with their mothers. There are no swimming camps or lessons per say, but the campers take a break from tennis or boy scouts and can play in the pool area. The pool also offers exercise classes like water aerobics or Zumba that appeal to older, middle aged people of mixed demographics. Interestingly, both active and inactive people use the pool. Where as the more serious swimmers come early in the morning, the heavier, less active swimmerS come for the classes.
Lauren and I came around 2:30 and were two of three swimmers in the lap pool. There was another fit swimmer who looked like he was working out or training for the long distance swim. In the play area, there was a mix of both white and black mothers and their children playfully swimming together. From observation, the vision of Ray and Joan Kroc is apparent this facility that caters families and swimmers of all abilities, races, and incomes together in one place. I had a great time and would love to go back!