“I spent more hours on the pool deck than you can possibly imagine,” said proud BSAC parent and Brandon Rotary Club member Chuck Colwill, right, at the 50-meter pool and diving well at the nonprofit Brandon Sports an Aquatic Center, whose Blue Wave Swimming athletes have competed in five Olympic games — in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). “I’ve seen this place in lots of different ways.”
“When I was here as a parent, I was pretty much totally focused on my child, and who wouldn’t be?” Colwill said, noting his then “more narrow” vision of the center, as the parent of future two-time Olympian diver. “I have been around a long time and what you see now, if you were here 10 to 15 years ago, the difference is unbelievable and we have a tremendous way to go.”
Included in that vision is a community pool, under construction, that aims to further the cause of youth-drowning prevention under the $1.3-million Learn To Swim initiative, for which Hillsborough County, Florida Government has earmarked $800,000.
BSAC leadership is committed to securing from private donors the remaining funds, which will be used to renovate both the 50-meter pool and the famed diving well, where Olympian Chris Colwill, center, learned to swim and dive and now is the head diving coach. Pool renovations will allow for open lanes throughout the day for swimmers of all ages and abilities to swim laps — even when Blue Wave coaching is underway — and for new programs, such as water polo, synchronized swimming and aquatic fitness and rehabilitation.
In turn, BSAC will become an economic driver for the community at-large, able to attract and host major swim competitions. “That means bringing in 800 kids over the course of three or four days, staying at our hotels and eating at our restaurants,” said Rotarian Chuck Burgess, left, executive director of BSAC and the newly seated honorary mayor of Brandon, whose Burgess 4 Brandon charity campaign this year raised more than $100,000 for area nonprofits. “We’re a nonprofit driving the economic sector, affecting not only the bedroom community but also the business community.”