Troy Moon, Pensacola State College
It’s spring, the sun is out and you want to get in the water.
But going to Pensacola Beach is a hassle, especially with a crippled bridge. And the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are still a bit chilly anyway.
Don’t worry, Pensacola State College offers an alternative for anyone wanting to take a dip.
The PSC Aquatic Center offers recreation swim sessions, swim classes, water aerobics, and more. And the 25-yard-long pool? It’s heated to 84 degrees. (And you don’t have to worry about dragging sand home with you.)
“We have a lot to offer,” said Kay Miller, PSC’s Aquatic Center coordinator for the past 16 years. “It’s a great place to meet new friends and get some of the best exercise you can get.”
She doesn’t have to convince 84-year-old retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Weiland, who has been making the short trip to the Pensacola campus Aquatic Center since 1990. He is a member of the Aqua Dynamics class, which is a water-based exercise group.
“You’ve got to stay active,” Weiland said before a recent class. “You don’t want to rust.”
Weiland has had both knees replaced and said aquatic exercise is better, for some people, than land-and-gym-based exercises.
“It was the best thing I could have done,” he said of his water rehabilitation. “Exercise in the water is one of the best things you can do for any kind of recovery.”
And experts agree.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water-based exercise “can help people with chronic diseases. For people with arthritis, it improves use of affected joints without worsening symptoms. People with rheumatoid arthritis have more health improvements after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities. Water-based exercise also improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.”
Weiland said he’s chosen the PSC pool as his aquatic hangout because (Miller) “runs a good program here.”
Plus, there’s convenience.
“I live nearby so it’s just a few minutes,” he said. “If I were to go to the (University of West Florida) pool, it’s a lot more time.”
Then, he chuckled.
“And my time gets shorter every year,” he said.
The PSC pool is open Monday through Saturday. Recreation swim times are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday as well as 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
But for those who prefer a more formal aquatic schedule, PSC’s Continuing Education Department offers a variety of aquatic classes and lessons, including adult and children’s swimming lessons and classes. Other classes include Aqua Dynamics (exercise class) and more.
The PSC Aquatics Center is also used by the Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club, which has its own office in the PSC Aquatics Center.
“We have so many people use this pool,” said Miller, an 86-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. “Kids, their parents. We have doctors and attorneys (even an assistant state attorney) who come because it’s a great facility.”
Lately, even a Navy recruiting group has been using the pool a few times a week to test recruits’ water skills.
“You never know who you’re going to see in here,” Miller said. “A lot of people have made good friends here.”
Miller is part of the Master Swimmers group – swimmers 18 years of age and older. Some of the group, including Miler, are members of the Master Swimmers competition team, the Gulf Coast Pirate Swimmers.
“I’ve been swimming all my life, but never competitively until I started in this position,” said Miller, who was a lifeguard in high school. “We have competitions in Auburn, Fairhope, Fort Walton. It’s been a lot of fun.”
She still swims daily after arriving at the Aquatic Center each day at 5 a.m.
“It’s just a great activity and workout,” Miller said. “It works out all the muscles. It helps your breathing. It just keeps you healthy. I’ve had people tell me they’ve had medical conditions that went away after swimming. It will keep you feeling younger than you are.”
Pensacola State College Aquatic Center recreational swim times
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Swimming Pool Fees for Recreation Swim. Fees cover a full semester.
PSC Students and Staff: Free
The Aquatics Program at Pensacola State College offers a wide variety of classes Monday through Saturday. Students may work at their own ability while enjoying the water environment. All aquatic classes are offered under the supervision of the Continuing Education Department. Classes are water exercise in the shallow and deep end of the pool, lap swimming with a coach, swim lessons for adults and children, and lifeguard training classes. Registration is required for all classes.
Details: Continuing Ed/ Recreation & Leisure Classes. Click “Register Now” option.
PHOTO: Kay Miller has been the PSC Aquatic Center coordinator for the past 16 years.