As the weather takes a turn for the cold, more and more people are beginning to look for indoor workouts, and the Ciccotti Center has been working to find ways to accommodate both the adult exerciser and the smallest ones.
With its fall activities getting under way, the Rudy. A Ciccotti Family Recreation Center has rolled out several new programs, one of which the Ciccotti Center has partnered with Special Olympics New York for—its Ciccotti Olympians competitive swim team for swimmers with intellectual disabilities.
Other new programs concentrate on competitive swimmers keeping their skills up during off-season, while more look to engage school-aged children.
While the Ciccotti Center’s premiere swim team, the Killer Crocs Ciccotti Olympians, is gearing up for its second fall season, after having been introduced last summer, another swim team has emerged.
The Ciccotti Olympians is separate from the center’s original swim team. For people 8 years old and up with intellectual disabilities, the swim team allows caretakers to feel more comfortable with the environment.
“A lot of special needs families are a little apprehensive about jumping into a swim team program,” said Nick Deck, Ciccotti Center aquatics manager. “Over the last few years, we’ve taken a different approach to special needs programs,” like integrating swimmers with intellectual disabilities into regular swimming lessons.
As with the Killer Crocs, the Ciccotti Olympians meets during off-season, which comes with a fee. However, as required by Special Olympics New York, there is no fee to join the team during regular seasons for sanctioned meetings.
And also like the Killer Crocs, there are prerequisites to get on the team, but if a swimmer is not ready, a feeder program will help them get their skills up to the required level.
Already, Ciccotti Center Director Debra Lambert said five swimmers are on the team with three in the feeder program. “We’ve gotten a lot of inquiries,” she said.
As well, the center is looking for ways to engage young athletes. The Ciccotti Center’s current regulations limit a child’s ability to use the center, since children under 12 years old cannot be unsupervised, and those under 16 years old cannot use the fitness center alone.
“One of the things I like to say is that there are many ways to become fit,” Lambert said. “You can get fit in the pool, not just by swimming laps, but by playing.”
Thus, the center has introduced competitive inner-tube water polo. Teams of eight people 13 years old and up can compete in a “round robin” competition, where each team plays against each other. The game will culminate in a championship Dec. 18. People can also sign up as a “free agent” if they don’t want to register with a team. And since the lap pool floor will be raised, players don’t have to pass a swim test.
“We’re trying not to only implement some creativity, but have more of a recreational-based aquatics programs that’s not strictly swimming laps,” said Deck.
Non-swimmers can take part in competitive sports as well. A two-week Little Stars Winter Baseball Camp makes use of the center’s baseball batting tunnel in order for kids to get ready for the spring season.
In addition, adult athletes have new programs to choose from, like the Polar Body Age assessment—a series of 12 tests to look at the chronological age of a person versus their body age to give them a goal to shoot for with their fitness. Back in the pool, competitive swimmers and athletes can partake in individual training, with tailored lessons for dry land and in-pool exercises.
Despite the amount of new programs introduced this year, Lambert said the Ciccotti Center would likely be adding more soon, especially as the new family-oriented programs get underway.
“In the future, we’re going to be looking to do more family-oriented recreational programs as we’re seeing more families want more they can do together,” Lambert said.
For more information on the Ciccotti Center’s new programs, go to www.ciccotticenter.org.