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New aquatic center brings marquee meets to Boise increasing opportunities for swimmers

Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 06, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Central Aquatic Center opened its doors in late June and Boise has already hosted two prestigious swimming competitions.

This past week the fastest youth swimmers in the west came to the Treasure Valley for the USA Western Age Group Zone Championship. This 14-and-under meet featured swimmers from 12 states and it's the future of USA Swimming.

"A lot of the records from this meet are actually Olympians we saw in past meets and Olympians we will see in 2024,"said Ryan Stratton of the Greater Boise Aquatics Foundation. "It is a really exciting thing to see some of these kids that are competing move up the chain and ultimately qualify for the Olympic games."

Three years ago the Greater Boise Aquatics Foundation began working to create this new 50,000 square foot facility that features an eight lane, 50 meter competition pool.

"Idaho is not the biggest swimming state, you go to California and these teams are super duper fast," said Sedona Stratton of the Snake River Swim Team, who's uncle is two-time Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller. "We are not the best."

Boise hosted the USA Western Age Group Zone Championship this week

Idaho did not have many swimmers reach the final heats of the competition that ended on Saturday, but we learned that prior to the aquatic center Sedona had to train at 4:00 a.m. at a gym pool because of of limited opportunities.

"It is pretty amazing to swim here, the air quality is the best because before we were swimming in this hot gym pool that was humid and hard to breathe," said Sedona. "I think the aquatic center gives us a lot more opportunities to do better."

The Idaho Aquatic Center aims to provide more opportunities for youth while also giving kids a place to learn how to swim as they feature swim lessons, water aerobics, water polo and lap swimming for the community.

The competition side means that families don't have to travel for every meet and the USA Western Age Group Zone Championship also creates a big economic impact with so many swimmers and their parents staying in Boise for five days.

Family from New Mexico cheer on the swimmers

"When we bring more people into the valley it only serves to increase the level of ability here in Boise and hopefully increase the interest in the sport of swimming," said Stratton. "Then get people in the water, get them safe around the water, teach them to swim and make sure they are water safe in Idaho."

I like to swim for exercise, especially in the winter. However, I've always found it tough to find a place close to the bench to go unless I join a gym or the YMCA. I look forward to picking up a 20 use pass and getting some laps in this new facility at 3575 S. Findlay Avenue.