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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
June 2018

Miami Shores Aquatic Center is a water-world wonder 

TParkPatrol_1here’s a world-class amenity in my small community.

The Miami Shores Aquatic Center is a three-acre complex at 10200 Biscayne Blvd., home to two recreational pools. You can spot one as you drive by. The other is out of sight, tucked behind the waterpark, Shipwreck Cove, and the new dog park. I was pleasantly surprised to find a state-of-the-art competition pool.

Visitors drive past the colorful Romero Britto beach ball sculpture to find parking in the 70-plus space lot. They change into swimsuits in the clean bathroom/lockerroom/shower building (the ladies’ area has 27 lockers, two showers, and a changing bench). There’s a snack concession, an office/mechanical building, a picnic pavilion with six weather-resistant resin picnic tables, and a first-aid room, where lifeguard classes are held. Three deck showers, three water fountains, and plenty of garbage receptacles dot the spotless facility, which is available only to Shores residents ($5) and their guests ($8).

“Safety is paramount here,” says pool supervisor Erik Olsen, who started working in 1999 at the Village’s old pool, located at what is now the south parking lot of nearby Miami Shores Country Club. He and assistant pool supervisor Kelly Fernandez are also American Red Cross-trained and certified water safety instructors.

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“We have a staff of 19 to 25 lifeguards, depending on the season,” says Olsen, “and no less than seven on duty on weekends, when Shipwreck Cove is open.” They rotate lifeguards between both pools and have two on duty during swim lessons.

Olsen gave the BT a tour of the complex, pointing out the zero-depth entry on Shipwreck Cove’s east side, six-inch depth at the perimeter wall, and a maximum depth of one and a half feet at the drain. There are six water slides, other playground equipment, and water sprays. The pool floor was recently renovated.

A super-chlorination is done once a month, and a pressure-wash clean occurs at the end of the season. According to newly appointed recreation director Angela Dorney (who served previously as interim director and 20 years as recreation superintendent), the total cost of Aquatic Center improvements was approximately $60,000, which included some new pool canopy umbrellas. Three of the six umbrellas and accompanying deck chairs are for party rentals.

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The competition pool, with eight lanes at depths of three to seven feet, also has two teaching areas with three-foot depths. There’s an American Disabilities Act-compliant ramp for handicapped access to the water that is put to good use by local resident Kathy Acevedo, who uses crutches. Years of knee surgeries and joint dislocations recently pushed her to come back to the pool to increase muscle strength.

“The Aquatic Center is a great benefit to the Shores,” she says as she watches swim instructor Joey Gravie lead a preschool class of swimmers. “It’s clean, comfortable, and I like relaxing here. I’m also impressed with how they work with children.”

According to Fernandez, the preschool aquatics class is the center’s most popular program, no doubt on account of worrisome drowning statistics for the four- and five-year-old age group. Infant swim classes are also very popular. Adults can join swim classes, Aqua Zumba, and a water cardio class.

Alex Allen-Tunsil has been bringing Alex II, his five-year-old son, to pre-school swim lessons for three weeks. “He used to be deathly afraid of the water, but now he’s excited to come every Tuesday and Thursday,” says the young father. Classes are open to residents and non-residents.

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Since early 2016, a private swim team, the Eagle Aquatics, practices six days a week at the competition pool. Kids ages five through high school, come to be coached by Olympic swimmer Adam Madarassy, who competed as part of the Hungarian National Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Madarassy’s team has about 100 swimmers. On any given day, 25 Eagles are doing laps. Less experienced swimmers do one-hour practices, while more advanced athletes work out for two hours. The students compete throughout South Florida, but Madarassy hopes to schedule and host their first official USA Swimming meet at the Aquatics Center sometime in 2019. Rumors that the pool’s size doesn’t meet USA Swimming regulations are false; the staff says the pool is 25 yards in length and 25 meters wide.

Renting the competition pool to a private swim team is one of several revenue-generating streams covering expenses. In April, Bay Harbor Islands began a one year, $50,000 contract with Miami Shores to allow their residents pool access after showing a photo ID and paying $5. Class and entrance fees, concession sales, and party rental packages helped cover more than a third of the $650,000 Aquatic Center expenses in 2017.

ParkPatrol_5“This year we’re on track to bring in a little more than half our expenses in revenues,” says Dorney. The Aquatic Center is a Village amenity, not a private enterprise. Approximately 60,000 people a year use the pools.

In 2000, a $3.2 million bond paid for the center’s construction. According to Village staff, soon after the pools opened, some residents on adjacent 104th Street sued the Village for building a commercial activity in residential zoning. They lost the suit, as well as an appeal, on the grounds that the center was built in recreational zoning. Complaints of noise from lifeguard whistles and loud music were addressed by the Village limiting whistles to emergencies and adjusting the direction of music speakers.

There are no complaints about pool temperatures, though. A geothermal heating system, which implements water from two wells on the property, keeps water temperatures at 83 degrees in the winter and 85 degrees in the summer. A chiller is used in summer months, and thermal pool covers are rolled out at night in winter to lower heating costs. In between Shipwreck Cove and the competition pool is a Jacuzzi kept at 102 degrees for adults’ quick dips.

Special events, such as Dive-In Movie Night, the Easter Egg Dive, and a poolside view of the July 4 fireworks display have big turnouts. Miami Shores Recreation offers summer swim camp beginning June 11.

 

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Park_map

Miami Shores
Aquatic Center

10200 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami Shores, FL 33138
305-795-2241


Park Rating

palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-0


Hours:
Variable
Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: No
Picnic pavilions: Yes
Tennis Courts: No
Athletic fields: Yes
Kayak rentals: Yes
Water Splash park: Yes
Competition Pool: Yes

 

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