Potts Swim Center has had a major impact on the community
Thursday, 23 August 2012 by Mark Magnan
Nestled behind Belton High School is a well kept secret. I have been by there several times, but have never ventured inside. I am sure many others have done. I am speaking of the Roy and Jean Potts Swim Center. It is a nice clean building just adjacent to all of the other sport complexes. But one thing that sets the swim center apart is that it can be enjoyed by the public as well as Belton Students.
For a number of years the Belton swim team was basically nonexistent. Then it was revived but really didn't have a home. The swim team needed to take a bus trip to Temple College for their class and practice. The TC pool was older and was requiring some extra attention. The lack of facilities really took a toll on the competitive nature of the swim program. The students were willing but the logistics of having their "home" pool located well away from their daily activities just wasn't the best situation to be in for a sport such as this. The swim team numbered in the low 20's then, those were very committed members. But even with the dedication not being able to put in the extra work consistently saw Belton finishing well lower than other schools in the area.
Then around 2005 things started to change. A much needed donation came in and this set the wheels in motion for the new swim center. Opening in October of 2007 the swim center immediately changed the way that Belton was going to see their swim program. But beyond that, the swim center became a gathering place for swimmers in the area, not just students and members of the swim team. The swim center is open to all, anyone in the area can enjoy the benefits of this pool. In early 2008 the pool was officially opened to the public, and it continues to be a source of exercise for many area residents. In the past four years, staff at the pool have taught over 1500 lessons. Also the records show that there have been over 200,000 "swims", being visits to the pool for a swim session or lesson.
It may come as a surprise that a sports complex on the grounds of a school would be open to the public, but that is exactly what the swim center is all about. Coach Burt, coach and overall boss at the swim center, wants to get more people to visit his pool. When asked what he wanted to see happen with the pool, he responded, "I would like to see more people take advantage of what we have to offer here." There are many classes and swim sessions to take part in if someone wants to enjoy the pool. Ranging from lesson for kids as young as four years old, all the way to water aerobics. There are times set aside for family swims. This is one of the activities that Burt is excited about commenting, "It is good that a family can come and enjoy the pool together."
Exercise in water is much easier on the body than some other activities. So this is perfect for people wanting to exercise to stay fit, yet need to take care of their joints. It is also great for therapy in recovering from an injury. But if you have a competitive streak and just want to swim laps or time yourself, you can do that as well. The pool is set up for competition.
One of the benefits of the swim center is that it is totally enclosed, so one can swim year round. Burt said, "It is great to be able to swim in January."
If you find yourself working during the day and with little time for your fitness activities, the pool opens at 5:30 am daily. The hours are shorter on Fridays and Saturdays, but the center is open until 8:30pm, Monday through Thursday. Safety is always a concerned, there is a staff member on duty at all times. Burt says, "Nothing happens in the pool until a lifeguard is on duty." The life guards as well as pool staff make sure that everyone is safe and has a pleasant environment to swim in. There is a staff of about 20 that work to maintain the pool and all the details that go with such a large amount of water.
If you would like to know more about the classes and public events at the swim center you can go to the BISD website at BISD.net and look under the community tab. Or you can call 254-215-2442. A one-time swim costs as little as $3, passes are also available. Swim lessons are made up of small groups so they are very effective and those cost $65 per student. Members of the school district may have discounts off of the standard pricing. There really is something for everyone at the swim center, even if it is mostly a social event while working out in the warm water on the far end of the competition pool.
So what has the pool done for the swim program at Belton. Coach Burt has seen a lot of growth in the program, his varsity team now outnumbers the entire program from just a few years ago. He commented, "The growth in the past four years has been great, it has created an interest in an alternative sport for the kids that don't want to play football."
When asked what it has done for the swim team itself, Burt proudly said, "It has made us one of the top programs in the area."
In the next part of this series we will look at the school swim programs and see how this has improved with the addition of the swim center and also how the students have benefited from such a quality facility in their home town.