Aquatics Center brings exciting future for Elkhart students

On Tuesday, February 14, the Elkhart Community Schools Board of School Trustees entered into an agreement with Beacon Health Systems and Community Foundation of Elkhart County on the development of the Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics, and Community Center. What does this mean for ECS students?

“The Aquatics Center will bring so many great opportunities for our students,” says Dr. Dawn McGrath, deputy superintendent. “We’re in the very early stages of working with the team to determine a schedule that will provide a wide range of both curricular opportunities, as well as extra-curricular opportunities. It’s our goal to have one or two elementary grades take swimming classes during school as part of their physical education curriculum, in addition to having it offered for credit in high school.”

Says Mary Beck Elementary physical education instructor Shaun McAllister, “I think learning how to swim at a young age is very important not just for the physical aspect, but for safety purposes as well. Learning to love the sport itself at a young age allows for a more diverse athletic background as they grow older. A lot of kids, speaking from an inner city school position, may not have the opportunity to learn these skills, as swim lessons can be cost and time prohibitive. Swimming has such beneficial traits that transfer into everyday life and fitness such as strength, coordination and gross motor skills.”

The Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics, and Community Center is a 170,000 square foot facility which will serve the Elkhart community and surrounding areas. The facility will include a state-of-the-art Beacon Health and Fitness Center focused on wellness and medical solutions, a first class regional aquatics center, a community center with flexible meeting space, gymnasium, and learning kitchen for nutritional classes.

The partnership with Elkhart Community Schools includes the aquatics center portion of the facility. The aquatics center will include a 25m x 66m competition pool with a diving area to support ECS swimming programs. It also includes a recreational pool, a warm water therapy pool, wet classrooms, dedicated offices, dedicated locker rooms for students, and a second story observation deck with seating for 1,200 spectators.

Outside of the addition of curriculum-based swimming programs for ECS students, the aquatics center will also provide ECS student athletes with the opportunity for expanded athletic programs. “Having this high quality setting for our student athletes will raise the bar in terms of our ability to train and compete in swimming at all age levels,” says Elkhart Memorial Athletic Director Jacquie Rost. “However, the pay off for this incredible setting goes far beyond just the competitive swimmers that we have in our schools. The space will also allow us to create and expand other opportunities involving water to get our student athletes involved through other possible clubs. Lastly, the relationship with Beacon will improve our abilities to rehab all athletes, regardless of the sport they play, in proactive and progressive ways.”

The Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics, and Community Center is slated to open in late 2018 or early 2019.