The region’s first indoor swim school will be built in Columbia County.
The owners of Dolphin Academy Swim School announced Monday their new dedicated teaching facility will be open for business this spring.
Work will begin this week on converting a 7,000-square-foot storefront next door to Academy Sports in Evans, to a full-time swim school with a heated 75-by-35-foot pool, said owners Amy Ristroph and Lee Fuller.
The two incorporated their swim school in 2011, but have been teaching swimming at the Augusta Aquatic Center and area neighborhood pools for years.
The idea began germinating when they went to visit another swim school in Texas several years ago. Ristroph said the facility, which was built inside a shopping strip mall was revelation.
“Everything was child size,” she said. “It was amazing.”
Fuller said the model is based on one that began in Australia, and has gradually been making its way into the United States over the past decade or so. The Texas swim school was brightly colored, warm and inviting, she said. It was designed for the sole purpose of teaching children how to swim.
“The kids were having fun; the water was warm,” said Fuller. “Everyone was happy.”
Ristroph said the Dolphin Academy facility will be different from other multi-purpose pools, which are used for everything from swim meets to water aerobics.
“It’s not going to be intimidating like the big Aquatic Center can be for some children,” Ristroph said. “This will be small, safe. Each child will have their own area. It’s comforting.”
She said the pool will feature an ultraviolet light water purification system, which reduces the amount of chlorine and other chemicals needed keep the water clean and safe for use. It will also have eight climate-controlled changing rooms and an air conditioned viewing room for parents, who can watch their children take classes through a glass wall.
The facility will be the only one of its kind in the area. The nearest cities with similar swim school facilities are Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., Ristroph said.
Fuller said they have been working on a plan and searching for locations for more than two years. In the meantime, the number of students has been growing each session. She said they have a waiting list for all their age groups, which start as early as 6 months and extends to adults. They expect to open registration for the new facilty in Februrary.
“We knew the only way we could grow was to have our own place,” Fuller said. “We are maxed out now.”