There aren’t many places Olympians and other elites in their field rub shoulders with us “regular” folks, weekend warriors, and beginners. But at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center you’re just as likely to share parallel lanes with gold medal winners and masters’ champs, a first-time triathlete, or a group of seniors enjoying a no-impact workout. And that’s far from all you’ll find in the newly-renovated epicenter of Charlotte swimming!
“If you love swimming, this is the place for you,” Facility Manager Matt Jakubowski told us. He’s been with the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center for 16 years. “For anyone who loves the water, this really is the best pool in the area.”
The $8.6 million renovation took right at a year to complete and was the first serious renovation of the center that’s been ground zero for serious swimming since its opening in 1991. More seating and better views for events? Clean, spacious lockers rooms? Front-of-the-house weight room with all the right stuff and tons of natural light? Check, check, and check!
The Center’s 50 meter pool has been fully retiled and features 10 lanes and new competition starting blocks. Timing and scoring has been moved from poolside to an upstairs vantage point, along with upper deck seating and loads of light pouring in from the ceiling-high windows.
“The introduction of so much natural light really makes the space and highlights the other features of the facility,” complimented long-time Aquatic Center member and masters swimming superstar Jenny Leiser. “It brings out the clearness of the water, the beauty of the tile, and the openness of the deck and permanent bleachers.”
And the renovations don’t just improve the looks of Aquatic Center. Substantial time and effort was devoted to what Jakubowski calls “the guts” of the place. New pumps and filters keep the water consistently clean and clear. And one step onto the competitive pool area and you’ll pick up on the noticeable improvements to the HVAC system, as well. That humidity you’ve come to tolerate around indoor pools? Comfort control is dialed-in here. And the water? It doesn’t get much cleaner or clearer, thanks to a UV disinfection system that requires less chlorine.
“The water is absolutely pristine and does not leave you with the lingering chlorine smell, the tell-tale sign of a swimming,” added Leiser. “I have been in most of this region’s pools and the Aquatic Center hands down has the cleanest and clearest water!”
Jakubowski is quick to point out that making both aesthetic and mechanical improvements as part of one overall project is a very big deal. “And for a project like this to be done on time, it’s an even bigger deal because it creates a lot of trust with the community and our members.”
Staff and member input on the design process is obvious. The cleaner, more spacious pool deck is thanks to thoughtful and out-of-sight storage for those big, bulky spools of lane dividers. That freed up the pool deck for more and better seating, and easier passage for swimmers, coaches, lifeguards, and guests. Same for that much-needed sidewalk that provides safe passage from the Center’s driveway right up to the front door.
“The renovated grandstands are great!” said former All-American swimmer and local coach, Diana Rugg. “The new overlook… showers and family changing room additions are all a very good step forward.”
Yes, the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center is home to year-round swim teams and some of the area’s star-studded competitions, but just like the open, airy, and inviting lobby, everyone is welcome here! Check out how easy and affordable it is to participate or become a member: