The benefit campaign for new changing areas at the Ciccotti Center gets an underwater theme as members swim on.
The Ciccotti Center’s Swim On In campaign is well underway to fund the construction for more family changing areas. The cost for new changing rooms is being covered through the purchase of aluminum fish for an installation to go up in January.
The Center saw the need for more gender-neutral changing areas after members with young children had hour-long waits during peak hours. The facility currently has two family rooms, with the busiest times during evenings and weekends.
“We realized within the first year or two that we were not going to be able to accommodate all of our families with the changing rooms that were built. There was not the opportunity to make those changes. In the last few years, things have really turned around here, so we were in a better position to look at renovating that space,” said Center Director Debra Lambert.
If a parent comes in with a child over 4 years old of the opposite gender, the child is not allowed to go into the changing room with the parent. The Ciccotti Center also has a rule that children under 12 cannot be in the gym alone, meaning parents had to wait for the spaces.
“So when you’re coming in, when you have a family, or even a dad just coming in with his daughter for swim lessons, he’s waiting,” Swim On In Campaign Coordinator Lyndsay Hanchett said.
So the Swim On In campaign was created to raise funds for more gender-neutral spaces. Members or companies can buy aluminum fish to be hung inside of the Ciccotti Center for years to come.
The fish come in four sizes, from the $100 Flutter Fish to the $1,000 Sterling Back Fish. A family name, children’s names, or a corporate logo can be engraved on the fish to hang on the Swim Celebration Wall opposite the stairs to the gym and just outside of the changing areas.
The fish, varying in color and coated in a durable paint to withstand time, will hang on a clear Plexiglas material, and an artist will create waves to evoke the sense of flowing water. Hanchett said the underwater theme was planned since the Center’s aquatic area was a large draw for members.
The campaign was created as an alternative to a paver campaign or a donation plaque. Since the fish will be mounted inside, it can be seen all-year-round, no matter the weather.
“This is something that is in the Ciccotti way of thinking. I think everything that the Ciccotti does is different. This isn’t your standard pool. The Ciccotti always takes things and kicks it up. Our donor recognition wall, we’re calling it our Swim Celebration Wall. It’s going to be something that we’ve never seen. It’s really an art installation, but (also) fun for the kids,” said Hanchett.
The goal for the fundraiser is $50,000, with two planned selling phases when people can buy fish. As of late last week, Hanchett said the Center had sold about 60 fish totaling $11,000.
The first selling phase will end later this week with the fish going up in late January. The second selling phase begins soon after, so people have the chance to see the installation and where their donations would be going.
Since the campaign concept is more unique, Lambert said some people have been unsure about donating.
After working with architects to decide on the best place for the new changing areas, Lambert said they decided on taking space from the existing men’s and women’s changing rooms. Ciccotti Center members have likely noticed the back portion of the changing rooms have been blocked off, cutting off locker room entrances to the pool.
Lambert assured that once the construction on the gender-neutral changing areas is complete, there will be doors in both gendered changing rooms for members to cut through to the pool.
The new area will add 10 more private spaces for families, or those who prefer privacy to public changing spaces, to the two separate family changing rooms. The new area will include the 10 stalls, each with its own bench, lighting and hooks to hang clothes. Three toilet rooms will be added in the area, along with a row of sinks and an open shower area for people to rinse chlorine off in their bathing suits.
“I have three young children,” said Hanchett. “For me, I think going into these changing stalls is going to be my preference, because you have a large bench, hooks, and (the kids) are confined…. The group shower, when I come in with my children, I don’t want to spend the time taking the suits off, showering each of them up. I went them to rinse the chlorine off, and let’s get going.”
Lambert said that older members have also been approaching staff with concerns of stability, while other members have said they would simply prefer more modesty. She said that once construction is done, the new space would fulfill these long-standing needs.
Lambert gave a projected completion date for construction around the end of January.
Anyone interested in participating in the Swim On In campaign can find more information on the levels of donation at the Cicotti Center website, www.cicotticenter.org, or can stop into the Center at 30 Aviation Road in Colonie.