By Chris Carr
The Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center for Persons with Disabilities (SpoFit) will be opening the brand new Kresge Family Foundation Aquatics Center, which features three fully accessible pools, on May 1st, 2012.
Made possible by the Kresge Family Foundation’s $500,000 donation, the Aquatics Center includes a lap pool, therapy pool and spa. Built by Presidential Pools, there are multiple ways for members to safely enter and exit the water, including hydraulic lifts and transfer access.
SpoFit is already developing numerous classes and clinics, the first of which will be a scuba event on Saturday, April 14.
The newest addition to the SpoFit family, Megan Harden, will coordinate the aquatics programs. Ms. Harden, who was hired in early March, has been working as a swimming instructor and coach around the Valley for nearly eight years, in Chandler, Mesa, Tempe and now Phoenix.
She discussed what types of programs she wants to implement once the pools are open, and how there will be something for everyone.
“My first main goal is to get a program for people who want to learn how to swim,” she said. “Then, there will be a little more advanced swim lessons, like a program where [members] can learn more strokes or flexibility through swimming, and an advanced program so that they can get in the water and get a good workout.”
While some members will be spending time on things like flexibility and strength building in the therapy pool, Joe Underwood plans on working in the lap pool to hopefully qualify for this year’s Paralympic Games. Underwood, 15, of Chandler, is a two-sport athlete who swims and plays basketball with the Wheelchair Suns. He says that having the new Aquatics Center in Phoenix will benefit his Paralympic preparation.
“I think [the Kresge Aquatics Center] is going to help me because I’ll have extra practice,” he said. “Once the Arizona Disabled Sports team starts swimming here, I’ll come [to SpoFit] even more because I swim with them too.”
For Paralympic hopefuls and novices alike, the new Kresge Aquatics Center will be a welcomed addition to an already impressive facility unlike any other in the nation.
SpoFit is a division of Arizona Bridge to Independent Living. It is located at 5031 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. For information about membership options, call (602) 386-4566.