My guess is that 12:00 on Thursday afternoon just before summer vacation isn’t exactly prime time for swimmers of Westside Aquatic. Upon entering the parking lot and driving around to the entrance, the whole place looked pretty empty. For the amount of parking spots the facility had next to the playground and by the main entrance, I was surprised at how quiet the place seemed. This was my first clue that this small amount of people was not typical to the center. The playground was definitely the busiest place with a school bus parked next to it and kids and teachers all over the place. A construction crew working on the ball fields and the partly gravel parking lot made me think that the recent renovations weren’t quite finished.
There were about 10 cars outside of the main entrance, and as I entered the building I saw only one person, a woman sitting behind the desk. As I spoke to her and asked her about the facility I got a chance to look around the lobby. There was a concession stand where things like snacks and goggles were sold. Dry erase boards were places around the lobby with colorful messages about the upcoming May activities. The drawing of a strawberry next to details about a trip to Beechwood Farm was my second clue as to the people that usually visited Westside Aquatic. She told me about the exercise classes, fun zone, and even kayaking. Swimming lessons, competitions, and camps also take place here throughout the year.
I walked down the hallway, which was seemed strangely quiet, and into the locker room. The bright yellow walls of this room made it feel warm even though it was a fairly big space and completely empty. I changed and went to look at the pool.
I had an idea of what the pools would look like from the pictures online, but it wasn’t what I expected. First, I walked into the area of the therapy pool. The space was pretty dark as no one was using it, but had nice equipment. Above this pool I saw a banner for the Make A Splash initiative.
As I walked to the competition pool to start swimming I finally saw people using the facility! There were two people swimming laps in the pool in a relaxed manner and three women walking laps around the pool. The swimmers seemed focused on their workouts, one doing backstroke and working on kicking, with two lifeguards intently watching them. The women walking around were talking and laughing together, obviously friends exercising as a group. This part of the building was much brighter because of the garage door sized windows that opened at the side of the space. There were bleachers around the pool for spectators and plastic tables and chairs. Near the back were inflatable pool toys that made it obvious that children did come to play when they weren’t in school. I saw a banner for a U.S. Masters swim team and boards with signatures from Greenville swim team.
As I swam laps I tried to decide if the pool was slow or fast, but was thrown off by the 50 yard lanes, 6 foot depth, and crisscrossing lines along the bottom of the pool for when the lanes were changed to 25 yards. The water was cold and felt great in the heat of the building with 80 degree air getting in.
Although I didn’t encounter many people during my visit to Westside Aquatic, everything I seemed to be signs of the people that usually filled the pool. The facility seemed very new and well taken care of. The pools and fitness center make it very easy for people to come to the center to exercise. With all of the things there for kids and families, like the toys and planned activities, I think many families either pay to swim for the day or buy monthly or annual memberships to the center, too. It was very different than what I grew up with, but I definitely wouldn’t mind swimming here regularly.