Fort Bliss, TX (KTSM) — A new Aquatics Training Center will open its doors for the first time, Monday at 3 p.m., at East Fort Bliss.
Construction began in November 2011 and planning as early as 2005. The $15.5 million, 50,000-square-foot facility is designed to offer more than the average pool experience. The Aquatics Training Center features three pools: a 50-meter Olympic-sized pool, a multipurpose pool and a 13-foot-deep diving well. Each body of water boasts its own innovative characteristics.
Aquatics demonstrations will follow the ribbon cutting. The facility will open for general use at 4:30 p.m., following the demonstrations.
“With this event, we really want to show off the amazing things our patrons can do at the Aquatics Training Center,” said Eric Hildreth, chief of the Community Recreation Division at Fort Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “There are so many features and options available that it’s almost overwhelming.
“We’re so proud to provide this world-class facility for our Soldiers at Fort Bliss, as well as their family members and our retirees and Department of Defense civilians,” he continued. “It just continues the practice of Fort Bliss leading the way in the Army.”
Unique features of the multipurpose pool include zero-depth entry with a maximum depth of 8 feet, a 12-foot climbing wall located on the deck, a permanent basketball goal and volleyball-court capabilities. Heaters can warm the water to therapy temperature within four hours to support wounded warrior rehabilitation. The zero-depth entry feature, which makes entering the pool similar to entering the ocean from a beach, supports shallow water egress training.
The eight-lane, Olympic-sized pool features multiple depths and a moveable bulkhead that can divide the pool into two separate sections, enabling simultaneous use of the pool for multiple aquatic programs. A 13-foot diving well features two 1-meter boards and a 3-meter platform and is designed for diving and drown-proofing, and can accommodate helicopter cab dunk training.
“It’s amazing to look at this facility and see the options it makes available to our patrons,” said Aaron Jones, Family and MWR sports director. “With the opening of the Aquatics Training Center, we’re opening new horizons for everything from lap swimming to kayaking lessons.”
The center is the first of its kind in the Army and will accommodate the recreational needs of the community; however, the center exists primarily to support Soldier readiness.
“Physical training, rehabilitation and water survival training are at the core of the Aquatics Training Center’s mission,” said Melinda Sorrell, director of Fort Bliss Family and MWR.
Located at 20733 Constitution Ave. it is the third of the “Town Center” facilities opened by Family and MWR within the past three years – the other two being Soto Physical Fitness Center and the Loeza Soldier Activity Center. In total, the three facilities represent an Army investment of $46.5 million.
“No other installation in the Army has been the recipient of projects of this scale and nature,” Sorrell explained. “All three are truly world-class facilities, and greatly enhance the quality of life here at Fort Bliss.”