When thinking of a “swimming hole,” you might picture a backwoods pond that Jethro and Elly May frequented before they loaded up the truck and moved to Bev-er-ly.
But the Swimming Hole in Stowe, Vt., is anything but hillbilly. It is a stunning, state-of-the-art fitness and aquatics center that serves not only its community, but also the environment.
From the outside, the 21,000-square-foot complex in the middle of ski country in the Green Mountains looks like a big ol’ barn. But the inside sports a spacious fitness area and two pools: a 25-meter, eight-lane, short-course pool and another that features a water slide and zero-depth entry.
Just over a year old, the Swimming Hole was founded by Jake Burton Carpenter (Burton Snowboards). “He wanted a pool for the people in town, to understand water for fitness,” says Jacki Schriber, the marketing director.
Yes, fitness is paramount. Schriber notes that there’s always a minimum of two lanes, and usually four, reserved for lap swimming (except when there’s water polo). There are aquatic fitness classes, but not for the faint of heart. “They are like floor aerobics, only in the pool,” Schriber stresses. “Very high-energy.”
While the Swimming Hole is all about working out, “it doesn’t have that gym feel. It’s not a ‘muscley’ place,” she says.
Instead, Carpenter set up this nonprofit venture to serve many Vermonters. “We have a rate structure similar to a YMCA,” says Schriber, adding that financial aid is available.
On top of all that, it is a remarkably energy-efficient structure. No mechanical dehumidification is used. Instead, an air-to-air heat exchanger provides dehumidification and preheats incoming makeup air. Therefore, large volumes of air can be exhausted economically and replaced with chlorine-free air. The heat exchanger thus enables the heating system to gain up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in air temperature. In comparison to a standard system, this one saves more than 50 percent of energy requirements.
As Best of Aquatics judge Craig Stuart notes, the Swimming Hole takes an “innovative approach to site design, adhering to the integrity of the surrounding landscape and incorporating energy-efficient, cost-effective operating features — all while providing a state-of-the-art, mixed-use aquatic and fitness center.”