Then: The economy was suffering when the New Holland Recreation Center opened in 2009, but by the time AI editors recognized the center in 2011, its membership had grown and the facility was thriving. Key to its success was flexibility — both in design and programming. For example, the 75-by-65-foot pool itself is divided into two sections to maximize options. The zero-depth-entry splashpark side offers a spray feature and water slide. The other side features lap lanes, designed with the shallowest part in the center, allowing tired swimmers to stand and rest, or younger swimmers to enter the water, while at the ends there’s plenty of depth for flip turns. Programming encompasses a variety of needs. The senior programs alone quadrupled in size over the first two years, helping to keep fees low for that fixed-income demographic. A mix of fun special events, such as the monthly Floatin’ Flicks, the cardboard boat race and the fireman’s tug of war, attracted people to the facility.

Now: The New Holland Rec Center continues to reach out to the community in creative ways. One change, according to Aquatics Director Tracy Carlson, is that all fitness and aquatics classes are now included in the cost of the membership, which enables members to try a variety of both dry and aquatic activities. Seniors who may not be able to afford the monthly membership fee can attend a free water aerobics class, sponsored by the local Office of Aging, on Monday. “We were getting a huge turnout for that class, so we added senior aerobics classes on Wednesday and Friday as well,” says Carlson. “To keep it affordable, we offer those classes to nonmembers for $2. So now a lot of our seniors are working out three days a week in the pool, and some are doing some land classes as well.” The center has also added a program to support Lancaster County’s large home schoolers. The Gym and Swim program provides swim lessons and team sports and meets the state’s physical education requirements.

Triathlon training also has been incorporated into the programming. “We had triathlon competitors who were strong in running and cycling, but were still practically dog-paddling. So we’ve added an adult swim clinic for those folks,” says Carlson. New Holland also offers its own safety courses, including water safety instructor, lifeguard and CPR training. With the addition of childcare to the center, the lifeguards are now learning how to conduct fire drills, which involve pool and locker room evacuation.

Attendance at the facility has been growing steadily since it opened. In 2009, there were around 22,000 user visits; in 2012, there were 37,000 visits.