Every city should have a public swimming pool, but they are a large commitment to sustain financially. Community pools rely upon regular members to help the facilities remain open every year. This year Noblesville is fortunate to celebrate 90 years of summers at Forest Park Aquatic Center. It took several generations of devoted staff, volunteers and regulars to make this happen.
As spring approaches, lifeguards and staff are hired, repairs and maintenance are made, and memberships are sold. In 2020, the board members who oversee FPAC were faced with a pandemic and the decision whether it would be safe to open a facility with an Olympic-size pool and diving platforms, as well as a kiddie pool and slides. Public pools remained closed across the country. With the help of the Hamilton County Health Department and support from the City of Noblesville, the FPAC staff headed by Aquatics Manager, Kim Bowling, successfully ran the facility the entire summer without a COVID outbreak. The Noblesville Swim Club, NASTI adult club, and the Ripfest diving program trained all summer. In addition, FPAC was able to provide a temporary training facility for Westfield Aquatics, Fishers Area Swimming Tigers, Hamilton Southeastern Swim Club and the Carmel Swim Club. Many non-competitive regulars also enjoyed swimming and diving at FPAC last summer.
However, Kim Bowling noticed some families could not risk potentially being exposed to COVID and stayed home from the pool. She missed seeing one family in particular, Missi McClain and her six children. Kim said, “Missi and the kids are like family here at Forest Park, they have been coming for years so when they hadn’t shown up the first week of our season the staff was concerned. Missi had informed me that they just couldn’t take the chance due to COVID but we are looking forward to seeing them all in their usual spot at the baby pool this season.”
Missi McClain said, “My children and I have had pool passes to Forest Park Aquatic Center for about six years. The first couple years we probably did not attend everyday, as the smallest kids were young and still napped, but the last three years except last year we have been regulars.” She continued, “I mean regulars, to go so far as, that a time or two when our car may not start we would walk just to get to the pool. Forest Park Aquatic Center offers many things to my family that I have yet to find at any other pools. First, Kim has a great crew of people that work for her and she takes really good care of her employees. Second, we know and are friends with every lifeguard that works at the pool. I have five children at home aging from 20, 16, 11, 9, and 7. When we first started though, the three younger kids were much smaller and my 16 year-old is severely disabled and needed someone with him all the times.
The pool set-up is in such a way that I felt very comfortable taking my kids alone if I had to and watching them in the smaller children’s area with lifeguards. The pool has fencing all around it and the diving well is separate, the Fast Freddy is roped off separate than the rest of the pool so you can take your family and stay with your younger children and give your older children a little more freedom but not too much. Plus, they have a Splash Pad and small slide for beginners in the children’s area. I love summer, I love this pool and I love knowing there is a safe place I can take my kids everyday that is fun. I consider the pool staff more like family than just workers. Forest Park Aquatic Center continues to update their pool and offer more to the public. This year they have added an Aqua Zip line that my kids cannot wait to try. If you are looking for a family-oriented swimming facility for the upcoming summer, Forest Park Aquatic Center has an area your entire family can enjoy. They have our vote, they are family to us.”
With more local people being vaccinated for COVID every day now, the 2021 summer season at FPAC will be even more safe than last year. Kim and her staff will continue to take precautions, sanitize, and use safety protocols this season as more regulars are expected to return. Memberships are the best way to enjoy all that the facility has to offer in the most affordable way. There is currently an Early Bird Special rate until May 1 and you can pay on line on the FPAC website now. A pool membership includes access to both Forest Park Aquatic Center and Morse Beach. It also includes entry to Flix and Float movies and Tiny Tots. Missi stated that the pool is completely accessible to those with disabilities and most importantly the the employees and their families are very accommodating to everyone. Become part of the family at Forest Park Aquatic Center and experience this summer tradition at your community pool.
Writer: Molli Cameron