The new Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center (RAFC) has opened to the general public in Orlando, after being closed for renovations since last fall.
Rosen was gifted the former Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center from the YMCA of Central Florida, preserving it from closure for the community, charities and local to international competitive aquatic teams and individuals who had come to rely on the 35-year-old facility on International Drive. While the transition happened this past October, the purchase was 28 years in the making.
Harris Rosen, a prominent hotelier in Orlando and avid swimmer, turned activist for the facility back in 1992 when the private center — then named the Justus Aquatic Center — was shut down by the mortgage holder.
“I remember arriving at the center one day and finding some Special Olympians hovering about,” said Rosen. “One of the youngsters recognized me as a swimmer there. They asked me if they’d done something wrong, to have it closed. It broke my heart. I knew I had to do something.”
Rosen called upon celebrities, organizations, and even Orange County to help save the swimming center before it was ultimately gifted to the YMCA of Central Florida and revenue-generating programs were put in place to help with operating costs. In 2018, to honor his dedication, the facility was renamed the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center.
Over the past few months, the RAFC has undergone a deep cleaning and multiple renovations, and with its public opening, features heightened safety and wellness protocols in response to COVID-19.
As one of the largest competitive swimming facilities in the Southeast, the RAFC offers one of only seven indoor performance diving rooms in the nation and is known as one of the fastest tanks in the nation. The 10-meter dive tower and 50-meter competition pool are unrivaled in the state, with the pool easily able to transition from indoor to outdoor with a first-of-its-kind hydraulic retractable roof. Many world and American records have been set at the facility over the years by the likes of Pablo Morales, Janet Evans, Matt Biondi, Tom Jager, Dara Torres and more.
“Did I ever envision owning a facility like this? Not in my wildest dreams,” said Rosen. “These are not necessarily the times when one would take on such a project. However, I came to realize that perhaps these are just the times when we need to preserve any normalcy that we can and any opportunity to maintain our health. Hearing from so many in the community who would be devastated by its closing, I felt compelled to help keep the doors open and appreciate the partnership of the YMCA of Central Florida in allowing me to do this through their generous gift.”
Memberships are available for individuals and families, with discounted rates for Central Florida hospitality industry employees, and include use of the swimming pools and all of the workout equipment and related facilities and programs. Special hourly, daily and multi-day drop-in rates are also availalble for out-of-town guests.
Examples of rates include $20 a month for teens ages 13-18; $30 a month for young adults ages 19-25; $70 a month for families; and $30 a month for seniors ages 65 and up. Silver Sneakers participants are free. For out-of-town guests, rates start at $5 for two hours, $10 for one day and $30 for one week.
To learn more about membership fees for this reimagined aquatic center, visit RosenAquatic.com/Membership.