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The 25-yard lanes, which can be turned into a 50-meter pool, in the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center (staff photo)

This year saw major changes to how Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools run community swim classes, to the surprise of some locals.

In July, Arlington Public Schools launched the APS Aquatics School for students and residents, while the county opened the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center in August.

APS’s new program prompted the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation to relocate most of its classes from local public high schools to the new facility near Crystal City. Since September, Long Bridge has been home to all county classes — save youth swim team practices — which officials say centralizes the county’s program and serves more people.

“Arlington County has long known the community demand for aquatics programs far exceeded the pool capacity in Arlington Public Schools,” said parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “Opening a long-awaited community treasure is hard enough, opening it amidst a pandemic has been amazing. We are happy as to how the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center has been received. And with the opening, there are now more opportunities than ever.”

Until this fall, DPR scheduled all classes, competitive swim team training and public swim time in the pools at Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools. With Long Bridge and the new school program up and running, APS and DPR are hammering out a new policy for sharing facilities. In the meantime, folks are still learning about and adjusting to the changes, per social media and emails to ARLnow.

“This is huge,” one tipster tells us. “The neighborhood school pools are one of the silent gems of Arlington… I don’t think anyone thought the aquatic center would take neighborhood pool classes.”

The school system started its swim class program on July 14 to recover more of the costs to maintain the pools and offer affordable classes, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.

Initially, Kalish says the school system asked DPR to move all programs to Long Bridge, including practice for the youngest members of Arlington Aquatic Club — the county-run competitive swim program that helped train Olympic medalist Torri Huske.

“It became apparent that youth swim teams are more successful when their training base is close to home,” she said. “This school year, per [a School Board policy], APS is allowing five practice groups to train about 15 hours a week at Wakefield and W-L pools.”

DPR decides which groups to schedule at the high school pools and pays APS to use them, Bellavia said.

Today, APS offers drowning prevention and learn-to-swim classes for babies, toddlers, children and adults, and fitness classes for adults and seniors.

Classes are staffed and filling up, Bellavia says, despite difficulties recruiting lifeguards and swimming instructors — another impact of nationwide workforce shortages.

“[The] APS Aquatics School implementation plan is on schedule and both the Summer and Fall term have been fully staffed and the courses, especially PreK School and Swim School, have been fully subscribed with a few experiencing small waitlist,” Bellavia said.

Classes generally fill up within the first week of registration, which opens 30 days before the session starts, he added.

“We have a new teacher who is very good,” said one Facebook user of her experience in W-L’s water aerobics class. “I get a true workout.”

Likewise, Kalish says the Long Bridge aquatics programs are “very popular.”

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Morning Notes

Blue and Orange Line Changes Today — “There will be no rail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations due to the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s derailment between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations. Blue Line service will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Mt. Vernon Square stations only… Orange Line service will operate between Vienna and New Carrollton stations and Silver Line service will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Largo Town Center stations, with single tracking between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom.” [WMATA]

Suspicious Object in Pentagon Parking Lot — From the Pentagon Force Protection Agency yesterday afternoon: “At approximately 6:30 a.m., a Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) Police unit on routine patrol in South parking when they observed a suspicious object. The area was immediately cordoned off, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic was blocked from the area. PFPA Hazardous Device Unit responded and the object was rendered safely at about 6:50 a.m. The all clear was given at 7:35 a.m… There is no threat to the Pentagon and surrounding area. The incident is under further investigation.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlingtonian Swims Around Manhattan — “What’s that popular phrase often given as the reason climbers attempt to scale Mount Everest: ‘Because it is there.’ That’s pretty much the same explanation Andie Nelson gave, in addition to being a new challenge, for successfully completing the 28.5-mile 20 Bridges Manhattan Swim around the famous New York City island-borough on Aug. 24. It was the first time the Arlington resident attempted the swim.” [Sun Gazette]

Pair Face Drug, Robbery Charges — “800 block of S. Frederick Street. At approximately 5:43 p.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just occurred. Based upon information provided by dispatch and witnesses in the area, a lookout was broadcast and two of the three suspects were located and taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the three known suspects allegedly forced entry into the victim’s apartment and physically assaulted her before stealing two cell phones and fleeing the scene on foot. During a search of the two suspects incident to arrest, items consistent with drug paraphernalia were recovered.” [ACPD]

Clarendon Road Closure Today — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Wednesday 9am – 1pm: Temporary closure of EB Washington Blvd between N Kirkwood and Wilson Blvd for roadway infrastructure. Expect detour at Kirkwood to 10th St North, then to Wilson. WB Washington Blvd open but expect delays.” [Twitter]

Volunteer to Remove Trail Bumps — From Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail: “Tired of those bumps on the trail? Volunteer to help us fix them. Volunteer to fix the bumps near Memorial Bridge on 10/16.” [Twitter, Eventbrite]

Video Tour of Local Fire Station — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Since COVID prevented us from opening up our fire stations to tours during fire prevention week, we hope our community enjoys this video tour of Fire Station 5 given by the members assigned there on C Shift.” [Twitter, YouTube]

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Fitness buffs, lap swimmers, curious residents and families with kids could be seen trickling into the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center this morning (Monday), on the opening day of the new facility.

A 12-year-old girl from Dorothy Hamm Middle School was the first to jump into the water, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Later, when an ARLnow reporter visited the facility, a five-year-old boy could be heard wondering how tall the diving boards were, while a handful of adults worked out upstairs in an 8,000-square-foot fitness center. More families showed up later in the morning.

The county put $2 million in donations from Boeing toward opening the center at 475 Long Bridge Drive this summer. At one point, a July opening seemed possible, but delays pushed the date back to August.

Four years after the project was approved, the 92,000-square-foot swimming and recreation facility — the second of four phases to redevelop Long Bridge Park — is officially open. It boasts a pool for serious swimmers and one for recreational swimmers, with numerous community amenities, from spas to community rooms.

“We have a full certificate of occupancy, but there is still a punch list” of tasks to complete before the center is fully done, said Peter Lusk, the athletic and facilities services division chief for the county.

Kalish said the parks department will transfer many of its swimming programs to the center, which “will help the community a lot,” as pre-pandemic, swimming classes hosted at pools in Arlington Public Schools filled up quickly.

Parks department classes are due to restart in mid-September, “the first time in 17 months,” Lusk said.

Competitive swimmers, water polo players and synchronized swimmers can use a 79-degree pool that can be configured for either 25-yard laps or 50-meter ones, using moveable starting platforms. There’s also an area for spectators upstairs.

Some younger recreational swimmers will remain at local school pools, as parents expressed concerns about travel times to Long Bridge Park.

The Aquatics Center “will be the home of the Arlington Aquatic Club,” Kalish said, referencing the county-run competitive swim program that helped to train Olympic medalist Torri Huske. “Younger ones will swim in school pool closer to home.”

Recreational swimmers can use a family pool with a splash pad, a water slide, four 25-yard lap lanes, a lazy river and a spa. The pool is 83-84 degrees for tots, seniors, and those doing therapeutic water activities. The lap lanes can be used for water volleyball and basketball, which Kalish said the department is “hoping this will be a draw for millenials.”

Nearby, “wet” meeting rooms can be used classes and for birthday parties.

Kalish shared grand visions for bringing out the community, from hosting big swim meets and using a large screen for movie nights, renting out open spaces and turning part of the facility’s new parking lot into farmer’s markets and wine tastings.

Prices for passes range by age group, and reductions are available to income-eligible residents. Daily admission ranges from $5-9 per person or $25 for families, and an annual pass ranges from $350-630 per person or $1,750 for families.

Boeing, for whom one pool is named, is making about 5,000 daily passes available to active duty military families in the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore’s service area for free through a lottery system.

The project has been in the works for nearly a decade, attracting some controversy along the way.

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Last night Olympic swimmer and Arlingtonian Torri Huske was greeted at Dulles International Airport by 40 friends and family members.

The 18-year-old Yorktown High School grad flew back from Tokyo Olympics after competing in three swimming contests, earning a silver medal in one event, as part of the U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay team, and narrowly missing the podium in the individual 100-meter butterfly race.

From Dulles, her friends drove her almost all the way home — but just before reaching their destination, feigned a wrong turn and ended up in the parking lot of Glebe Elementary School.

There, she was surprised by the flashing lights of Arlington police and fire trucks — the latter of which had hoisted a 50-foot American flag in the air. Below were somewhere between 200 and 300 family members, friends, teammates from Arlington Aquatics Club and Yorktown High School, as well as younger AAC swimmers, her second-grade teacher and other Arlington Public Schools staff who helped the Huskes through the years.

“It was a magical night,” her father, Jim Huske, tells ARLnow.

The event was organized by the Arlington Aquatics Club, offered by Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and the club with which Torri has swam since she was five years old. Although the Huskes knew the surprise event was coming, they didn’t know how many people to expect. And news of the surprise greeting spread quickly.

“I think I knew 80% of the people there,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Cheering fans held glow sticks and signs, and Torri took photos with young swimmers who look up to her, Parks Department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said. The fire department gave her an honorary shirt and patch.

“Everyone was so excited for her and there was so much joy in the air,” she said. “Torri made a beeline for Evan Stiles, her coach, to give him a big hug when she got out of the car.”

Stiles has been her coach for the last four years, Huske said. He credited him, and all of Torri’s coaches, as well as the local connections who helped Torri find suitable pools to practice in, and APS staff for getting his daughter to the Olympics.

“Everybody has a little piece of that medal, whether they realize it or not, and she knows,” Huske said.

He added that his family is “so proud of her of her swimming. She always wants to do better. She gave it her best at that time, she’s looking forward to the opportunity to represent America again. We’re so proud of how she handled it. At 18, all those young kids, they all banded together, and all helped each other. They did a phenomenal job to support each other, from soup to nuts.”

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After heartbreak in a race last weekend, Arlington swimming phenom Torri Huske will be coming home with some Olympic hardware after all.

Huske was part of the U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay team that won silver in a race that was televised nationally Saturday night.

The team was bolstered by a strong 56.16 second performance by Huske, who swam the butterfly leg of the medley, but came up just short of gold. The U.S. finished 0.13 seconds behind the Australian team, which set an Olympic record with a time of 3:51.60.

A week ago, Huske finished 0.01 seconds away from the bronze medal and 0.14 seconds from gold in the individual 100-meter butterfly race. The 18-year-old Yorktown High School grad, who will attend Stanford in the fall, was also on a mixed medley team that missed the medal podium this past week.

Reaction to the medal-winning relay performance via social media, below.

https://twitter.com/USASwimming/status/1421658186210185219

https://twitter.com/stanfordwswim/status/1421661277189906436

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Morning Notes

Beyer Lauds Vaccine Mandate for Feds — “Requiring vaccinations for the full federal workforce is the right thing to do for the health of the workforce and the nation they serve. Including all civilian federal employees and contractors in this mandate is huge, it will mean this covers a very large number of workers. This policy rightly prioritizes federal workers’ health.” [Press Release]

No Mask Mandate in Va. So Far — “Virginia recommends that even vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in certain circumstances, but with different locations experiencing different levels of COVID-19 transmission, the state has stopped short of issuing a mandate.” [Tysons Reporter]

Mask Mandates for Pentagon and D.C. — “Effective immediately, the Department of Defense has ordered that masks must be worn at all Pentagon facilities, regardless of vaccination status.” “Masks will again be required indoors in D.C. beginning Saturday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser ordered, in a reversal of recent policy driven by new federal guidelines that recommend indoor masking in areas where coronavirus transmission is high.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Reports of Sick Birds Decreasing — “After Virginia and other states began receiving reports of a mysterious illness sickening or killing birds in late May, reports are starting to go down. However, the cause of the birds’ illness and deaths remains unknown.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources provided the update on the bird mortality event Wednesday.” [Patch]

Bus Bay Closures Start Sunday — “To make way for the Ballston-MU Multimodal Improvements Project, the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) will be temporarily closing several Metrobus bays near the Metrorail station. Starting Sunday, bus bays A,B,C,D, and J will be closed, which will impact a number of Metrobus routes. The changes will also cause many detours as the buses alter their routes to access the new bays.” [Patch]

Local Diver Wins Another Title — “A triple-crown high-school diving champion from the winter season has added another title to her 2021 resume. Dominion Hills diver Ellie Joyce won the oldest-age senior girls age group with a 227.75 point total at the Divisional 4 championships of the Northern Virginia Swimming League. During the high-school campaign as a sophomore for Washington-Liberty, Joyce won Liberty District, 6D North Region and Class 6 state championships for the Generals.” [Sun Gazette]

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Yorktown High School grad Torri Huske appeared poised for victory in the 100-meter butterfly last night in Tokyo, but ended up just off the Olympic podium by a tiny fraction of a second.

The 18-year-old was out in front by a head down the stretch, but ended up finishing at 55.73 seconds, 0.01 seconds away from the bronze medal and just 0.14 seconds after the gold medal time.

Arlington Aquatic Club teammates and other supporters cheered Huske on from Dudley’s Sport and Ale in Shirlington, as seen on NBC’s Olympics Twitter account, below.

Despite the disappointment, Huske is still early in her competitive swimming career. She will attend Stanford in the fall, swimming on the school’s elite women’s team, and will be a favorite to return to the Olympics in three years in Paris.

More from social media:

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1419480533617283074

https://twitter.com/stanfordwswim/status/1419472245039063043

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Swim meet at the Dominion Hills pool in 2013 (photo courtesy Dennis Dimick)

The swim and dive teams at the Dominion Hills Pool are ditching the “Warriors” team name and moving away from Native American motifs.

The Dominion Hills Area Recreation Association Board of Directors started soliciting suggestions from swimmers, divers, coaches and families on Friday, according to an email to team families, shared with ARLnow.

“We decided to stop using Native American imagery at our pool and the name ‘Warriors’ for our swim and dive teams,” the board tells ARLnow in a statement. “While the name ‘Warriors’ has several meanings and by itself is unobjectionable, the teams have used it in connection with Native American themes. The Board decided to solicit ideas from the members for a new name and mascot.”

It started de-emphasizing the use of the name this season, according to an email to team families. The pool’s board is open to a name that would permit members to use existing gear, which bears a feather illustration.

“We recognize that there may be some disappointment as we make this transition but we are excited to select a new team name and mascot,” the email said. “Team names that would be appropriate to use with a feather mascot have the added practical benefit of allowing us to continue using the feather on existing team gear.”

A committee of team representatives and board members will review the submissions and recommend a new name to the full board, which aims to announce the new name at a banquet on Saturday, July 24, according to the email.

The Washington Football Team — which nixed its former name one year ago — is making a similar play as it narrows down options for a new name and logo, to be chosen early next year.

“Feedback from across communities we engaged clearly revealed deep-seated discomfort around Warriors, with the clear acknowledgment that it too closely aligns with Native American themes,” WFT president Jason Wright explained in a blog post.

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Morning Notes

Another Rosslyn Redevelopment Planned — “Rosslyn’s aging Xerox Building could soon be replaced with a massive new apartment complex, as the neighborhood’s older properties continue to steadily redevelop. The investment advisory firm TIAA, which owns the building, and its real estate arm, Nuveen, filed plans in Arlington County last month calling for the full overhaul of the property at 1616 Fort Myer Drive. In its place, the companies hope to build a 691-unit apartment building reaching up to 30 stories tall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington History Museum Reopens — “Having reopened its museum to the public on the nation’s 245th birthday, leaders of the Arlington Historical Society are now looking ahead to completing a top-to-bottom renovation and reimagining of the facility in time for the nation’s 250th… The museum is located in the 19th-century Hume School, located on Arlington Ridge Road. It came into the society’s possession 60 years ago, and is showing its age.” [Sun Gazette]

Last Week’s Tornado, As Seen from D.C. — “Lightning softly flickered inside the body of the storm. The shelf cloud, a smoothed and rounded arc fanning outward just above the ground, was lit from below as it tumbled over the urban glow of Ballston, Clarendon and Rosslyn… I began fixating on a ringed, collar-shaped cloud above the curtains of rain. Shortly before 9 p.m., the lowest portion of the cloud appeared to be curling inward, deviating from the storm’s heading.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Local Swim Club Update — “The Overlee Flying Fish defeated the Donaldson Run Thunderbolts in a rare all-Arlington matchup in the Northern Virginia Swimming League. Overlee won, 236-184, on July 3, keeping the Flying Fish tied for first with the Tuckahoe Tigers at 3-0 in Division 1. Donaldson Run fell to 0-3.” [Sun Gazette]

Nearby: Alexandria Removes SROs — The Alexandria City Council has voted to remove School Resource Officers from city schools, despite opposition to the move from the School Board. Last month the Arlington School Board voted to move SROs off school grounds.  [ALXnow]

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The long-planned and long-debated Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center is set to open this summer, perhaps as early as July.

The $60 million facility, construction of which was approved in 2017, is located north of Crystal City and south of the 14th Street Bridge, offering monumental views across the Potomac. It features a 50-meter competition pool with diving towers, a whirlpool, a family pool with a splash pad, a water slide, water volleyball and basketball areas, and a lazy river — in addition to an 8,000-square-foot fitness center and rooms for for classes, parties and events.

A multi-million-dollar donation from Boeing will help cover the facility’s operating costs, and will also make admission free for local, active duty military families, in return for naming rights to the 50-meter pool and the park’s existing outdoor fields.

In the years-long discussion about the merits of the aquatics center, prior to it being built, there was some debate over how much of a local need it was filling, at a relatively high cost. Will it be something mostly used by Speedo-clad swimming enthusiasts, or will it be widely used by the community, particularly during cold weather months when recreation options are limited?

With the aquatics center close to opening, let’s revisit that question. Do you plan on checking out the facility at some point this year, after it opens?

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Arlington’s own Torri Huske has set a new American swimming record and secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in Tokyo this summer.

The 18-year-old phenom, who’s graduating from Yorktown High School and is set to attend Stanford University, posted a time of 55.66 seconds in the 100-meter women’s butterfly at last night’s Olympic trials. It was the second night in a row in which Huske set an American record in the event on national television — she did so in the semifinals on Sunday night as well, with a time of 55.78 seconds.

“It was just really surreal, I just feel that it hasn’t even set in yet that I’m at Olympic trials,” Huske said in an interview. “So the fact that I’m now going to be part of the Olympic team and representing our country is just unbelievable. It hasn’t really sunk in yet… it was kind of just like shock when I touched the wall.”

Congratulations flowed in after Huske’s record-setting swim — down to Huske’s former elementary school in Arlington.

The swim cap worn by Huske and seen across the country was that of the county-run Arlington Aquatic Club (AAC), which is coached by Alexandria native Evan Stiles.

Huske has been smashing records during her high school career at Yorktown and at AAC. As of last year before the pandemic, she had yet to lose an individual race on the high school level. NBC Sports reports that she “used the extra Olympic year to become one of the U.S.’ fastest swimmers.”

Huske may yet have other events in which to compete in Japan. She is also competing at in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle races at the Olympic trials this week, as well as the 200-meter individual medley, according to the Washington Post.

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