By Tamas Mondovics

Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center (BSAC) leaders were joined by Hillsborough County officials to celebrate the start of construction on the facility’s new pool, slated to open next summer.

The event included a groundbreaking ceremony with a twist. Instead of the traditional turning some dirt over, in symbol of project start, officials used their shovels to splash some water around in the facility’s existing pool.

On hand for the celebration was Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, BSAC Executive Director Chuck Burgess, County School Board member Melissa Snively, and BSAC board members Dave Brown, Joe Campoamor and David Lemar.

Burgess explained that the two-phase-project—scheduled to begin in January—involves the construction of a brand new 25-yard-by-25-meter community pool as well as a much-needed renovation of the BSAC’s existing pool, which has been serving the community since the opening of the facility in 1963.

“I cannot express the anticipation that exists at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center for this major initiative to begin,” Burgess said, adding that the project is made possible through a partnership with the Hillsborough County Commission in a major youth drowning prevention initiative.

Last fall, the Board of County Commissioners approved the allocation of an $800,000 gift to BSAC, located at 405 Beverly Blvd. in Brandon, to help fund the project, specifically the new pool, along with renovations to the center’s current pool to serve more local individuals and families in the greater Brandon region. The remaining $500,000 investment has come from privately-raised dollars in the local community.

“We have the opportunity here to potentially save lives and reverse the trend of drowning by creating more safety education and offering more swim lessons in our community,” Burgess said. “We also have the opportunity to create new jobs and broaden our leadership footprint in aquatics.”

BSAC, a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been serving the community for more than five decades by providing fitness, character and athletic programs for individuals and groups of all ages and abilities. The center annually serves more than 9,500 individuals. Burgess indicated that with emphasis on reducing child drownings and strong focus on children learning to swim, the new pool and the effort to improve on the facility is well worth it.

For more information, visit www.mybsac.com.