Bigger isn’t always better. Case in point:
the ambitious North County Aquatics Center. Working against budget
cuts and hiring freezes, the facility’s amenities are modest,
but its goals large.
Located on central Florida’s east coast, Sebastian, like many
communities in the state, is facing tough economic times. The
facility has had to work with a budget slashed 15 percent by the
county and state, and operate during a hiring freeze that only
broke a month before this past summer season.
The 5-year-old center boasts a competition pool, a zero-depth
leisure pool, water cannons, bubblers, a water tree, two water
slides and a water playground. Open year ’round, it can count
among its accomplishments the hosting of the 2003 Florida High
School Swimming and Diving Finals, which brought more than 3,000
swimmers, divers and their families to the park. More recently,
North County hosted the Florida Special Olympics state swim meet
for the third year.
The center’s events and classes have attracted big numbers:
Learn-to-swim classes have drawn more than 3,600 participants;
competitive swimming events have brought in 6,400-plus spectators;
and attendance at the Aquanautics aerobics class leaped 90 percent
compared with last year.
Because many of Sebastian’s residents are retirees, the
facility has created classes and events that cater to their needs
Operators are hoping that once the Florida economy — which
was hit hard by the real estate downturn — improves, the
center’s attendance will grow even more. Meanwhile,
memberships remain reasonable, with an annual fee of $120 per
Once the budget reverts back to normal levels, North County wants
to add a lazy river and even a surf machine to its list of
Now, if it can get some seniors surfing, that may well be its
biggest achievement. — Neal Broverman