Cal swimmer says new Richmond Swim Center could give rise to star athletes

Up to 120 third-graders in Richmond offered free swim lessons as part of new program

A swimmer on the Cal men’s team suggested the newly renovated Richmond Swim Center could give rise to the next star of the sport.

Justin Lynch of Vallejo said he began swimming in a community pool near his home at age 6. Today, he’s an elite swimmer and the member of a Cal 200-yard medley relay team that set an American record at the 2015 NCAA Championships.

Lynch (pictured below) was among the elite aquatics athletes who attended a grand opening showcase Saturday of the Richmond Swim Center, which underwent a $7.6 million renovation and has been closed for nearly a year and a half. In an article Wednesday, a writer raised the many benefits the state-of-the-art swim facility next to the Kennedy High campus will have on the community.

swimcenter.10-29-3“I’m here to encourage the community, the kids specifically, and to let them know all the opportunities that they can take advantage of,” Lynch said at Saturday’s event.

Lynch talked about how his ability to pursue swimming — fueled by his access as a youth to pool and swim programs — allowed him to travel the world while representing the U.S.

The Richmond Swim Center is not yet open to the public. According to Radio Free Richmond, City Manager Bill Lindsay said the target date for opening is Nov. 1.

swimcenter.10-29-7Pretty much everyone says the wait will be worth it. The renovation, funded by West Contra Costa Unified School District construction bonds, included a reconfigured Olympic-sized swimming pool, retractable skylight, and outdoor improvements such as an enclosed play structure and courtyard with picnic areas.

The swim center, along with the Richmond Plunge in Point Richmond, are maintained and operated by the Richmond Recreation Department. Water fitness programs, family and recreation swim, and tot splash programs are among the programs offered, according to a mayor’s office statement. Student swim programs will also be offered as part of the partnership between the city and school district, the statement said. Swim lessons and Aqua Zumba programs will resume in January.

All photos provided by the City of Richmond