Poke around on our website and you just might land on a page that includes a quote from the Babylonian Talmud: “With regard to children, a parent is obligated to teach them how to swim.” Whether taken literally or figuratively, this centuries-old directive provides a worthy basis to what has long been a cornerstone of The J’s programming: aquatics.
With our indoor and outdoor pools, The J’s aquatics program is well equipped to cater to a diverse clientele that ranges from from Cohn Early Childhood Learning Center children to an adult cadre of dedicated early-bird lap swimmers. In-between are the JAC Barracuda swim team and dive team members, aqua aerobics participants, kids enjoying a birthday party with one of our giant inflatables, summer campers splashing the heat away, or families kicking back together and enjoying some pizza at a summer Thursday Family Fun Night pool party.
And new last fall was a collaboration with the local chapter of Outdoor Afro that taught 12 adults how to swim.
Crafting a winning team
“Aquatics is a tricky space,” says Courtney Rogers, who was hired as wellness director last summer. “It takes consistency, teamwork, and a lot of attention to detail to keep all the moving pieces aligned,” she explains. And now she’s thrilled to have the right team in place “to deliver the very best to our members.”
Billy Greene was named aquatics director just last month, and with more than 15 years of experience in the aquatics field it hasn’t taken him long to start making a difference as he focuses on helping aquatics thrive. “He’s been so intentional about connecting with parents, kids, teachers, and community members,” says Courtney. You might even say he’s taken to the job like a fish to water.
Wellness Support Specialist Robert Johnston also joined the staff in January. Previously the athletic director at a K-12 school, he’s already helping grow various wellness programs while maintaining the quality that J members expect. “Wellness to me is building one’s strength emotionally, physically, and mentally,” he says “That’s also my favorite part of the job — helping people reach their goals and enjoy a better life in a fun environment.”
Full steam ahead
In addition to the new hires, the last 12 months have seen the indoor pool space renovated and refreshed, and the swim lesson program is at its peak enrollment since the pandemic shutdown three years ago. Under the direction of Billy Greene, the swim team has attended two meets in the past month, and he sees improvement with every practice. “The best part of my job is pushing these kids — and all of our members — to their full potential,” he says.
In the meantime, we’re gearing up for all summer campers to benefit from swimming lessons, and we’re just a few weeks away from relaunching our lifeguard certification courses.
“We’re implementing a lot of great changes to ensure that our pools are as safe as they can be,” says Courtney, “and that we’ve got the best aquatics program in Birmingham.”