EAST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new aquatic center opened up in East Los Angeles Saturday.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict was at the grand opening and found a lot of kids happy to have a new place to swim.
With one cut of a ribbon, the Belvedere Aquatic Center was open for business.
“Yeah,” exclaimed one very happy kid, “I love it here!”
Within minutes of the grand opening, Benedict reported kids were flipping — literally — over having a great place to stay cool for the rest of summer.The Olympic-sized pool can cool off a lot of kids.
Diego Hernandez said, “It looks pretty cool.”
He took a bus to the pool and got to the center in 20 minutes. It’s the closest pool to his house.
Hernandez. 11, wasn’t quite ready to jump in — he doesn’t know how to swim — but his mother is signing him up for lessons.
The budding swimmer told Benedict he has goals beyond the dog paddle and the back stroke.
He wants to learn, “So I can be a professional swimmer. It’s my dream.”
The old pool here was built in the 50s and wasn’t large enough to host competitions.
The new pool is state-of-the-art. It’s 50 meters and has three different diving boards. The center also has plenty of locker rooms and is certified for both swimming and polo events.
“Not only can the county benefit from this but local schools can use it as a sports facility,” said Steve Whitman of PCL Construction.
The Belvedere Aquatic Center is really aiming to reach kids of all ages.
Benedict reports the facility has four pools in all — in addition to the Olympic-sized pool, there is also a small pool for toddlers and a leisure pool for seniors with water only two-feet deep.
“It really broadens the facility for a larger range of people,” Whitman said.
Many parents told Benedict the $14 million pool project couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This is very important. I remember growing up in the projects, the pool kept me out of trouble, kept me swimming,” said Ignacio Castro.
The need to keep all kids busy is also not lost on the city, either.
“We understand and recognize that they need resources like this whether it be a park, a library, athletic fields, a skate park or a pool,” said Gloria Molina, LA County Supervisor.
Hernandez, the determined 11-year-old, told Benedict he will be back — first thing Monday — for his first lesson.
“I’m going to the Olympics,” he said.