Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission’s Department of Parks & Recreation truly offers aquatics for all. The agency operates 11 facilities, including sprayparks, indoor pools and seasonal facilities designed for recreation, competition, learn-to-swim, therapy, and fitness.
“We have instituted an extremely inclusive program that allows everyone to feel comfortable in our facilities and programs, as well as making what some may deem as an ‘unattainable resource,’ affordable for all,” says Tara Eggleston, the agency’s countywide aquatics coordinator.
Prince George’s County has a diverse population, and a key aspect of the agency’s aquatics success is the diversity among leadership. “This is our way of ‘leading by example,’” Eggleston explains.
The agency also is working to promote aquatic safety. Eggleston and her team have developed a comprehensive safety initiative, participating in the national water safety month program as well as USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash program.
Aquatics is a major component of departmental special events, including Senior Health & Fitness Day, Family Fun Fitness Day, Passport to Wellness Program for Career Employees, and the Safe Summer Initiative.
Other notable programs are the “Aqua Access,” which provides youth in Prince George’s County with free admittance to aquatics facilities and programs during the summer; adapted aquatics classes; and water fitness and therapeutic offerings.
With 11 facilities, maintenance can be challenging. In 2010 the department renovated three aquatics facilities, converting two sites from standard pools into splashparks, and renovating a third.
To further enhance the aquatic offerings, the agency also recently enhanced a number of aquatic programs. There’s a new youth swim team and free lifeguard prep courses.
When it comes to staff training, new lifeguards receive a total of 72 hours of specific training. In January, the department also implemented the first annual Lifeguard Instructor’s In-Service Training Program.
That included a review of CPR/AED training programs; crunching of audit information; and practice-teaching opportunities. To market aquatics programs the agency uses several media channels, including the parks and recreation Web site and its companion site just for teens; a weekly e-newsletter sent to almost 20,000 patrons; press releases, local advertising and special events including dive-in movie nights and doggie swims.
“The commitment to diversity, operator certification and aquatic access for all makes this
aquatics program a model for others to follow.”
- 5 seasonal outdoor facilities featuring a variety of amenities, including wading pools, spray features, lap pools and water slides
- 3 year-round indoor facilities featuring movable floors, heated whirlpool/spas and lazy rivers
- 2 splashpads featuring spray features, lazy rivers, dumping buckets, aqua climbing wall and water slides
- 1 indoor/outdoor facility featuring a heated, 25-yard 6-lane indoor pool; heated training pool; heated whirlpool/spa; fitness rooms; outdoor splash and wading pools; diving well; picnic area; and volleyball court