New Swim Facility Opening in Falls Church
31 Jan, 2019
Olympic Gold Medalist Tom Dolan recently announced his second Tom Dolan Swim School will open in February 2019 at 6112-A Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church, Virginia 22044, right down the street from where he grew up in Arlington, Virginia and where he currently lives in Falls Church, Virginia.
With four children under the age of five years old, Dolan knows the importance of teaching water safety at an early age and creating the right environment is key. Dolan tapped GTM Architects with the new location’s open design, which involves joining two spaces focused on accessibility for swimmers and their families.
“There’s a tendency to focus on an end goal,” Dolan says, when it comes to swimming, and that may be to get to a competitive level. But his main goal is to teach a life skill, not just an activity. Dolan’s motto “Swim Thru Life” has multiple meanings, including providing water-safety education, self-esteem and confidence in the water for all ages, from three months to adult. “It’s about having the confidence to be a champion in life,” Dolan adds.
Dolan began swimming in 1980 and led his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to an NCAA team title in 1995 while winning nine NCAA titles as a student-athlete. He became a back-to-back Olympic Gold Medalist in the 400 Individual Medley in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 and Sydney, Australia in 2000. Dolan also won a Silver Medal in the 200 Individual Medley in 2000 and held the 400 Individual Medley World Record for nine years. He also won two Gold Medals at the World Championships, was a 14-time US National Champion, and is inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Since his run at the elite level of swimming is complete, Dolan is focused on the education of the sport. Not only will Dolan’s second purpose-built swim school have elements of the first - including family-friendly doorways for strollers, family changing rooms, on deck showers, 90-degree pool water, sound proofing, and state-of-the-art filtration system – the new facility, with the help of GTM Architects’ Principal Rick Conrath, will also be focused on open parent viewing areas, play spaces for siblings, and even lights by Lighting Science emphasizing well-being. Dolan is looking at the latest and greatest ways to improve the fundamentals of swimming, including how to swim technically correct. By repeating correct technique over short distances, children’s muscle memory develops quickly thus allowing them to learn faster and ultimately swim longer distances.
“The education side of swimming is so much deeper than just having kids in the water,” Dolan says. “It’s teaching the life skill of learning how to swim.” And most importantly, Dolan never takes swim safety for granted; he always maintains a respect for the water, and teaches this to each student. “Increasing awareness, reducing drowning,” are key components of swimming’s life lessons. He also works to raise awareness about diagnosing asthma, which Dolan was diagnosed with at age 12 and managed throughout his swimming career.
He also wants to improve the overall swim school experience, especially for parents bringing their kids for lessons, and those adults joining in themselves. The facility needs to be inviting, not only from cleanliness and aesthetic perspectives, but also for ease of access from getting to the building and maneuvering around once inside. In this busy world, “we’re looking at design elements that help families get in and out,” Dolan adds, and learn how to “Swim Thru Life.”
To register for 2019 classes at the new Tom Dolan Swim School in Falls Church, go to www.tomdolanswimschool.com or call 571.933.8944. For more information about the design of the second swim school, contact GTM Architects’ Principal Rick Conrath at 240.333.2007 or go to www.gtmarchitects.com