Long Center indoor pool opens in time for winter

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Just in time for the cooler, winter weather, the Long Center indoor pool on North Belcher Road has reopened.

The Clearwater facility shutdown in May for a $1 million renovation project.

On Tuesday, many of the regular customers were eager to return.

"I haven't gone to any other pools since it closed," said Ayva Rosenberg, who learned to swim at the pool when she was three years old.

The pool was upgraded both below and above the water to create a safer swim area for patrons.

"We changed everything, new hydrazzo surfacing in both pools, new tile work in both pools, new LED lighting," said Recreation Supervisor Richard Auskalnis.

Mechanical upgrades were also added to the pump room.

According to Long Center officials, the resurfacing work will benefit children and elderly swimmers by making it easier for them to grip the surface of the pool with their feet.

Improved lighting will make the floor of the pool more visible to lifeguards monitoring the water for swimmers in distress.

Since opening in 1990, more than 29,000 local children have learned life-saving swim lessons at a low cost at the Long Center, according to pool officials.

"Me and my brother, we would do the swim class. It was really fun here. I've kind of missed it," said Rosenberg.

Lanie Van Der Horst, a mom of two, brought her children to the facility for swim training on Tuesday. She said teaching them to swim at ages two and three is a necessity.

"Living in Florida, there are pools everywhere. We go to the beach all the time. We live at a house with a pool. It's just very important for them to know how to swim," explained Van Der Horst.

The heated and lightning-proof indoor pool makes it possible to hold swim classes year round. Pool officials said they are in the process of expanding the swim lesson program, which costs $10 for parents and children to take swim classes. More instructors have been hired.

For more information on the Long Center or to register for a swim class, visit http://www.myclearwaterparks.com/home/showdocument?id=4907