If you need a reminder of the extraordinary things that ordinary folks can accomplish, look no further than Triangle Aquatics Center. Five years ago, the citizens of Cary, N.C., were frustrated by the lack of year-round aquatics facilities. Several competitive swimmers and their parents, who are now board members, took action when no government support came through. They raised enough funds from other locals to make this state-of-the-art indoor venue a reality.

Triangle was clearly designed with competition in mind. It features a 50-meter pool, a training pool and spectator seating for 1,000. But competition is only one goal of the facility, which also aims to introduce the community to the fun and health benefits of aquatic activities.

Today, the center is home to two USA year-round swim teams, who bring in an average of 1,000 athletes plus family members per event, and more than a dozen swim teams. In 2008, it hosted the aquatics portion of the Special Olympic North Carolina Games. Based on its own tracking, Triangle hosts more than 10,000 competitive swimmers annually and brings in about one-third of its guests through its Web site, one-third through friends and one-third from a combination of competitions, fliers, brochures and media outreach.

Management initially planned to rent out pool space to swim programs and aquatics instructors. But they quickly realized the lack of aquatic space in the area meant there weren’t enough formal swim programs and operators — so they decided to take matters into their own hands. A program director was hired to oversee 35 activities, including swim lessons for all ages, water aerobics, water polo matches and parent-child swimming events.

Today, staff-organized classes in the training and warm-water pools run concurrently alongside swim lessons, competitive swim training and stroke improvement classes, led by contractors who rent pool space. Aquatics Director Randy Roberts says overall membership has grown since Triangle’s opening.

Since February 2008, the center also has certified 160 people as part of its lifeguard training course. Future plans include adding an indoor recreation pool and outdoor 50-meter competition pool. — I.H.