NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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EVERYBODY INTO THE POOLS

Looking back at first year of Phillips Aquatics Center 

Submitted by MPRB staff

Lifegaurds take a MPRB certification class at Phillips Aquatic Center

Lifegaurds take a MPRB certification class at Phillips Aquatic Center

MPRB lifegaurds hold youth swim lessons at the Phillips Aquatic Center

MPRB lifegaurds hold youth swim lessons at the Phillips Aquatic Center

Swimmers participate in the first ever Thanks-Swimming, a 5K swim at Phillips Aquatic Center

Swimmers participate in the first ever Thanks-Swimming, a 5K swim at Phillips Aquatic Center

MPRB lifegaurds hold youth swim lessons at the Phillips Aquatic Center

MPRB lifegaurds hold youth swim lessons at the Phillips Aquatic Center

“Friday night is a great time to be at the Phillips Aquatics Center: It’s really bustling with young people,” says Sarah Chillo, Aquatics Manager for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB).

 “Some of them are at the weekly free lifeguard clinic, working their way toward becoming a certified lifeguard, and some are enjoying teen night in the other pool.” 

She says a lot of them go back and forth, which is not just OK, but encouraged. As Chillo sees it, that shows the aquatic center’s mission in action: expanding both water safety and recreational swim opportunities for the neighborhood and the broader city.

Another group the Phillips Aquatic Center (PAC) serves is student athletes, as a site for swim meets and for regular practice times for girls’ and boys’ teams from Minneapolis Public Schools. Whether they’re athletes, aspiring lifeguards or simply having a fun night out, youth have developed a sense of pride and ownership in this new community asset. 

“The swim teams finally have a home, where they can build their team identity together instead renting time at pools all over town, and teen night is one of the ways PAC makes it easier for anybody to work swimming into their daily or weekly routine,” said Chillo.

Indeed, PAC is meant to attract anybody and everybody who wants to get in the water: toddlers taking their first dip; masters-level adults arriving at 6 a.m. to refine their strokes; seniors staying flexible with water walking; swim times for women and girls only. 

It was designed and programmed to be welcoming and inclusive for all ages and abilities – which has resulted in a calendar packed with lessons, community and recreational activities; team practices and club rentals; competitions and special events.

Partners, supporters and collaborators have been essential to helping fill that calendar. 

“They have helped ensure that the right swim opportunities are available to meet everyone’s needs,” says Chillo, “and they’ve also helped us cultivate a workforce that represents the community – including multilingual staff.” 

It’s all part of integrating into the Phillips community, and being responsive to its diverse immigrant and cultural communities. For instance, in working to expand culturally sensitive swim times for women and girls, MPRB has partnered with Hennepin County Public Health and B.R.A.V.E., an organization serving young women in the Somali diaspora community.

Al Bangoura, who became the MPRB Superintendent in January, sees PAC as a symbol of the organization reinvigorating its commitment to recreation. 

“I am thrilled to be working with the Board of Commissioners to meet the recreation needs of everyone in the city, including the Phillips and Ventura Village communities. I am proud of park staff and their work with partners, which made the Phillips Aquatic Center’s first year a success. We look forward to building on those accomplishments in year two!”

Contributors include MPRB staff Sarah Chilo, Angela Doheny, Mimi Kalb, Robin Smothers and Dawn Sommers. 

 

Fast facts

10,384 visitors (during PAC’s first 11 months)

713 Participants in youth and adult swim lessons

360 Hours of practice time for Minneapolis Public Schools’ girls’ and boys’ swim teams

130 Swim lesson scholarship recipients (18% of all swim lesson participants)

96 Lifeguards completed American Red Cross certification

74 Masters, Jr. Swim Club members

35 Swimmers enjoyed PAC’s inaugural “Happy Thanks-Swimming 5K” event on Thanksgiving Day

5 Days per week offering water fitness, water walking and senior programming 

 

Underwater hockey?! 

Groups and 

organizations that call PAC home 

• Augsburg University women’s swim team

• Minneapolis Public Schools swim teams

• Twin Cities Aquatics Cooperative

• USMS learn-to-swim adult masters club

• Minnesota Loons – underwater hockey club

• Subversive Sirens – Women’s synchronized swim team; queer- and women-of-color inclusive

• Minnesota Nice – Twin Cities’ first LGBTQ+ adult masters swim club

• Piranhas Swim Club – competitive club for Minneapolis and metro-area youth

• Southside Charter School – students swim weekly at PAC

• Hope Academy – physical education curriculum includes swim lessons at PAC

• East Phillips and Phillips Youthline groups –  Friday night open swim, school-release-day trips

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