Launch Slideshow

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WEINSTEIN JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER | RICHMOND, VA.

WEINSTEIN JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER | RICHMOND, VA.

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Who would’ve guessed that a Jewish community center would have one of the best indoor aquatics facilities in the nation? Possibly Francis A. Lewis or Mark and Anne Sternheimer, whose financial contributions made all the pools, water slides and underwater fitness possible.

The Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center was built 50 years ago to foster Jewish identity and enrich lives in central Virginia. It accomplishes this goal by offering members a dizzying array of sports, recreation and fitness activities, as well as child-care services (nonmembers also can enjoy the amenities for a nominal fee). The center’s extensive aquatic offerings support its mission by bringing different segments of the community — young and old, advanced swimmers and aquatic beginners — together.

The JCC’s Frances A. Lewis Pool is 25 yards long and features six lanes for lap swim, deep-water fitness and swim lessons. Built 30 years ago, the facility recently was renovated and now plays host to water yoga and aqua Pilates classes, water aerobics, parent and child aquatics courses, and lifeguard instruction. The Lewis pool also serves as the training ground for a synchronized swim team, as well as summer and winter swim teams.

The Sternheimer Recreation Pool, built five years ago, is the center’s indoor funland. The facility’s piece de résistance is an 86-degree multipurpose recreation pool that has a purple dinosaur — small enough to be scaled by a tot. Surrounding the pool are two water slides, a lazy river, a sitting area with whirlpool-like jets, a mushroom-shaped waterfall and two spraypads.

The Lewis and Sternheimer pools benefit many in Richmond — the elderly, the disabled, kids and working parents. All the donors who made the aquatic center possible knew they weren’t just building pools, but also creating a gathering space for the community. — Neal Broverman