PINE BLUFF, Ark. (News Release) – On Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington, its City Council, Olympic Silver Medalist Maritza Correia McClendon, Paralympic Swimming Hopeful Haven Shepherd, and the Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce will cut the ribbon on the 12 million dollar Pine Bluff Aquatic Center (PBAC). Admission to PBAC is free and open to the public on Saturday from 11am-5pm, with swimming beginning at 1pm.
McClendon, the first female African American swimmer to make the U.S. Olympic team, won a silver medal in 2004 in the 400m FR, was a
three-time world champion, 11-time NCAA champion, and 27- Time NCAA All American. She is also the first African American to break a
world record in swimming. Correia and Shepherd will take the first swim with the Pine Bluff swim team, the Pine Bluff Sharks.
Shepherd, a nationally-recognized athlete, is a 16-year-old double amputee, having lost both of her legs as a baby during her parents’ horrific murder-suicide in Vietnam. She was adopted by a Missouri couple as a baby and is now an elite swimmer with hopes of making representing the USA in Tokyo at the 2020 Paralympics.
In addition to swimming, visitors to PBAC on grand opening Saturday will sample other activities that will regularly take place, including Water in Motion and Zumba®. Cold treats will be given away, and Alice 107.7 FM personality, Pool Boy, from The Heather and Pool Boy Show, and Stack 3, heard on Power 92.3 FM, will both broadcast live. The Red Cross and Salvation Army will also be present to accept donations for those recovering from historic flooding of the Arkansas River.
“This new Aquatic Center will enhance our residents’ quality of life and provide yet another economic catalyst for Pine Bluff’s resurgence, as people throughout southeast Arkansas come into our city to use the facility,” Mayor Washington said. “I’m excited that this moment has finally come. The construction phase and operations after the opening will produce a multi-million dollar impact for our City and Jefferson County. When you reflect on the Pine Bluff’s history and the history makers Pine Bluff has produced, it’s beyond time that Pine Bluff have a center as grand as this to meet the needs of its residents and give the next generation a place to be proud of and set records.”
The PBAC is the only center of its kind within a 60-mile radius to offer public accommodations suitable for competitive-level swim. More than 22 lifeguard and 3 full time jobs will be added through the center. The aquatics facility was funded through the Penny for Progress tax passed in 2011.
The PBAC is the first public pool open in Pine Bluff in a generation. No access to learn to swim dried up opportunity for thousands of youth. However, one of the features of the PBAC will be its relatively low cost swim lessons, for which registrations are now being accepted. Costs for eight-week lessons for one are $40 for members and $50 for non-members. PBAC Memberships start at $30 for one month for a single person and $50 for one month for a family of four. Single-day access is $5 per person.
“This center really is an investment into the future of Pine Bluff,” said T.R. Santos, Center director. “Youth swim teams will regularly practice and compete here, which will help shift the narrative about what Pine Bluff has to offer.”
To learn more about the Pine Bluff Aquatic Center, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.