The J opens new family aquatics center for Valley residents

A view of the 25-yard competitive pool at the Valley of the Sun JCC (photo by Melissa Fittro)

A view of the 25-yard competitive pool at the Valley of the Sun JCC (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Whether looking to escape the heat, join a water polo team or teach your child to swim, the Valley of the Sun JCC’s $3 million aquatics renovation is giving Valley residents the opportunity to do all of the above.

Upgrading from just one pool, the center will now have two pools, a splash pad, a new concessions stand, a 26-foot rock climbing wall and comfortable outside seating to soak up the sun. Furthermore, the center will now be offering new swim and water polo teams, exercise classes and aquatic-based physical therapy.

The Valley of the Sun JCC — also known as The J — is one part of a 30-acre campus. Nestled on Scottsdale and Sweetwater roads, the 30-acre Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus includes the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix, the Council for Jews with Special Needs, the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix among others.

The Jewish Community Center was first located in Phoenix, before it transitioned into a center-without-walls. In September 2002, the all-inclusive Ina Levine campus opened.

The J offers a variety of programs for the mind and body for every age, including a fitness facility, a gym and workout area, an early childhood education center, a Judaic library, classrooms and office space.

“When we built the pool — it’s actually similar to the large pool that’s out there — but that’s all that was out there,” said The J Managing Director, Kim Subrin, in a June 28 interview. “So it wasn’t really a huge gathering space. It was a lot of fun, but there was obviously a lot of potential for more.”

The aquatics project began last summer after experiencing major leakage in the original pool. It is expected to be complete in the next couple of weeks.

The 2,500 square-foot splash pad that is to run with heated water. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The 2,500 square-foot splash pad that is to run with heated water. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The first pool is a large 10-lane, 25-yard competition pool complete with a beach-style sloping entry to wade into the water. The second pool is 4-feet deep activity pool, providing ledges to assist children and swim instructors during swimming lessons. In between the two pools is a 2,500-square-foot heated splash pad for children.

Pulling out all the stops, the pools include a filtration system that is to be less corrosive than salt water, but better on skin and swim suits; a large digital time clock for competitive teams; and outside bathrooms.

“When they made the decision to re-do the pool, the decision was made ‘let’s not just open a regular pool, let’s make it a true destination for everyone in the community,’” said Ms. Subrin.

Through fundraising, the center’s vision of belonging in the north Valley was reaffirmed.

“It’s proven the community really sees how necessary it is to have The J here,” said Ms. Subrin.

The J is open to the public and offers a drop-in rate, or different priced memberships.

While the pool offers a place to relax with the family on the weekends, it also doubles as therapy, exercise and a competitive swim environment.

“We completely restarted our own swim academy,” said Aquatics Director Debbie Meek during a June 28 interview. “We start with water safety with babies starting at 6-months, and go up to age 12 for group lessons.”

The center’s vision is to offer a competitive swim presence in the community and provide talented swimmers. There are two USA-sanctioned teams, one for ages 5-18 and a Masters team for ages 19 and older. In addition, The J has plans to start adult and youth water polo teams.

For those looking for a less competitive work-out, The J is utilizing the activity pool to provide new classes including a variety of water aerobics and stationary water bicycles.

“They also have Parkinson’s Disease things they do in the fitness world, that we’re going to bring to the water,” said Ms. Meek.

“We do have a lot of elderly members here, along with our youth and kids. We want to have a lot of programs for them too, and feel comfortable that it is not just for little kids.”

To find out more about The J’s programs, hours and activities, visit http://www.vosjcc.org.

The outdoor 26-foot-rock climbing wall is brand new the Valley of the Sun JCC. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

The outdoor 26-foot-rock climbing wall is brand new at the Valley of the Sun JCC. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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