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Brookfield Swim Club Seeks New Clubhouse

Constructed in 1967, the Brookfield Swim Club's building is old, outdated and in need of replacement. So the club's now seeking a permit from the county to build a new one.

"We either have to modernize this facility or fall to competing clubs in the area," said swim club president Carl Cecil at last week's meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. "Our club has authorized us to spend nearly half a million dollars."

HE SAID a new building is important for member retention and growth — motivating people to stay in the club and to join it — and "to provide a social club for Brookfield and the Chantilly community."

Seven years ago, Brookfield installed a two-story slide and two seasons ago, it renovated the pool. So a new clubhouse building is the final element needed toward readying the pool to better serve everyone.

Some 300 families belong to the Brookfield Swim Club, and 100 children, ages 4-18, are on the swim team. And, said swim team director and representative, Maryellen Silsby, "The club is open to anybody who wants to join. We have people who live in Centreville and Fairfax, and we have memberships open." (Call 703-968-9281).

Cecil, for example, lives in Sutton Oaks and, he said, "I think this would be a great place to have our community meetings." Silsby said a new building is "definitely needed. It's going to enhance the community and, from a swim-team standpoint, it'll enable us to host bigger meets."

Since the current building was constructed so long ago, it no longer meets the state building code or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Besides that, said Cecil, "It's a maintenance nightmare — plumbing, etc. — because it's almost 40 years old."

He said the building will be knocked down when this swim season ends in September, after Labor Day. Brookfield residents plan on the new facility being completed by the end of December — just in time to host a Super Bowl party.

The current building is 20x50 feet; the new one will be 30x65 and 35 feet high. A new, 10-foot deck will form an apron around the building, off the second story. And prior to or during the 2005 swim season, said Cecil, "We're going to extend the fence further onto the grass. And one of our swim-club members is donating new playground equipment."

THE SECOND floor will contain a meeting room that may be used year 'round for various events, such as birthday parties, and also for viewing swim meets. "It'll have a mini-kitchen, bathrooms, skylights, a trophy case and lots of windows looking out over the pool," said Cecil. "And the whole thing will be aesthetically pleasing to the community."

Kristin Nelson, the swim club's social director, said the new facility will be able to host adults-only parties with food, drinks, a deejay and swimming, as well as preteen and teen parties on summertime Saturday nights for kids, ages 9-18. These events would include a deejay, games, swimming and diving contests, dancing, pizza, ice cream and rootbeer floats.

"We could also have taco nights, pasta nights, barbecues, potlucks, pool float nights and ice-cream socials," said Nelson. "I'm excited."

Son Evan, 16, a Chantilly High sophomore, is a lifeguard and competes in freestyle and butterfly on the swim team. And he, too, is looking forward to the new building.

"Other pools, like Greenbriar and Poplar Tree, have nice pool houses — and ours will be even better," he said. "Other teams were crammed into a small team-area during meets, so this will give them more space. And [the new deck will provide] more room to walk around during swim meets."

Megan Silsby, 15, a butterfly star, said the pool's "like my second home so it'll be great to have a facility to hold all the members and even more. I can hardly wait 'til it's finished."

Julia Hed, 12, a Rocky Run seventh-grader, specializes in the butterfly on Brookfield's team and says the improvements will make things "a lot better" there. Her dad, swim-club treasurer Dave Hed, said there'll be "a lot more room for spectators and people in general — and bigger and better locker rooms."

Kevin Ludden, Pool Board member at large, believes the $375 membership fee is "the best summer investment a parent can make. A lot of these kids are second-generation members. This is one of the original community pools in the county."

BROOKFIELD'S been a member of the Northern Virginia Swim League (NVSL) since 1973, but has never been able to host a divisional meet or major event because of the facility's capacity. But the new clubhouse, fence expansion and deck addition will enable it to do so.

Seamus O'Connor, a Syracuse University sophomore, has been on Brookfield's team since 1992 and now coaches it with his mom Karen, the head coach. He said a new clubhouse "will bring in more revenue and we won't have to go all over the county for the big meets."

"We try to do an annual lock-in for the team, but haven't been able to for the past four years because it rained," he said. "Now, we'll have a roof over our heads. And we'll be able to exercise even if it's raining; we won't have to cancel practices."