YMCA Aquatic Center

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YMCA Aquatic Center Orlando

The YMCA Aquatic Center located in Orlando, Florida is one of the largest indoor competitive swimming facilities in the southeastern USA with a 50 meter by 25 yard natatorium, a separate 25 meter by 25 yard diving well and a 25 yard teaching pool.[1]

It features a first of its kind hydraulically retractable roof. The facility also incorporates a workout/ wellness center, martial arts center, and racquetball courts.

Considered a very fast pool it has been the site of many national and international swimming competitions. Numerous world and American records have been set over the years at the facility by Pablo Morales, Janet Evans, Matt Biondi, Tom Jager, Dara Torres and others.[2][not specific enough to verify]

History of the YMCA Aquatic Center[edit]

Formerly known as the Justus Aquatic Center it opened January 1985 as a business venture combining a hotel with a sporting venue. It was the first aquatic, fitness and hotel complex, of its kind. Financial problems plagued the center from the beginning. In 1988, there was a brief closure of the facility as it was taken in receivership by the Great Western Bank.[3] The facility was renamed the Orlando International Aquatic and Fitness Center. Citing an operating loss of $600,000 a year and the impossibility of running an aquatics facility of that size in the black, the bank closed the center in January 1992.[4][not specific enough to verify] The center was to be destroyed in order to make a larger parking lot.

A local hotelier, Harris Rosen, fought the closure, by forming an organization called Friends of the Aquatic Center with several aquatics activists such as Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer, Scott Henderson, Julie Sundstrom and others. A six-month community battle ensued in the attempt to reopen the center. Rallies and protest marches were held and congressional representatives Jim Bacchus and Bill McCollum became involved.[5][not specific enough to verify]

Ultimately a deal between the county commission and the bank was arranged, in exchange for zoning changes that increased hotel room density at the site, the bank separated the Aquatic Center from the hotel and donated the facility to the county. Not wanting to manage the facility, the county offered the center to the Central Florida YMCA. Jerry Haralson the CEO of the Central Florida YMCAs agreed to add the Aquatic Center to the Central Florida YMCA community. [6]

In June 1992, the facility reopened as the YMCA Aquatic Center.[7][not specific enough to verify]

Charlie Stuart became the first chairman of the YMCA Aquatic Center’s Board of Directors and Richard Robinson was named the first executive Director.

In 1994 Jim Ferber the CEO of the Central Florida YMCA arranged a partnership with Florida Hospital Orlando that resulted in the addition of a physical therapy and rehabilitation center to the YMCA Aquatic Center. The remodeling project was completed under the guidance of Jim Purdy the then executive director of the YMCA Aquatic Center.

In the mid 1990s, John Vasbinder took over as the executive director of the YMCA Aquatic Center and for the first time the center began to run in the black. A $250,000 grant from Orange County resulted in further improvements to the center.

In 2007 the YMCA Aquatic Center added a new $150,000 video scoreboard under the guidance of Steve Corrie, executive Director of the YMCA Aquatic Center from 2007-2012. In 2010 Corrie led a successful $1.3million capital campaign that provided a comprehensive facelift for the facility. These upgrades allowed the Aquatic Center to move back into the national swim meet scene. During his tenure, Corrie rebranded the facility in the swimming world as 'The Big House'. The name has stuck since then.

The YMCA Aquatic Center currently houses a number of competitive athletic teams in swimming, water polo, and diving. One of those programs is YCF Diving who, in 2012, had 2 Olympic Trials qualifiers (Justin Dumais & Wallace Layland) and 1 Olympian (Brittany Viola).[8][not specific enough to verify]. The YCF Water Polo program was named the 2012 Southeast Club of the year. Special Olympic/Dr P Phillips High School Coach and YMCA volunteer, Apryle Nickson was named the 2012 North America Special Olympic Coach of the Year.


  1. ^ "Detail Swimming Pool Information". SwimmersGuide.com
  2. ^ Swimming World Magazine
  3. ^ Vaughan, Vicki (November 10, 1988). "Hotel, Aquatic Complex Goes On The Block". Orlando Sentinel. 
  4. ^ Orlando Sentinel Jan 1992
  5. ^ Williamsburg News June 1992
  6. ^ "A Brief History of the YMCA Aquatic Center". YMCA Aquatic Center.
  7. ^ Orlando Sentinel June 1992
  8. ^ Orlando Sentinel August 2012

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°26′35″N 81°28′24″W / 28.44318°N 81.47331°W / 28.44318; -81.47331