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January 24, 2020

Swim club proposes pool complex at Vint Hill

A concept for The Nation’s Capital Swim Club’s pool structure at Vint Hill.
The club has a contract to buy 3.2 acres at Johnson Drive and the Vint Hill Parkway for $610,000.
I think it’s good for the community that we have another facility, because I’ll open it up to the community when we’re not training, especially during the day. That area is growing. And I think the plan is for it to continue to grow.
— Tom Ugast, The Nation’s Capital Swim Club owner
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Staff Journalist
One of the nation’s premier swim clubs hopes to construct a multimillion-dollar training center at Vint Hill near New Baltimore.

Based in Bethesda, Md., The Nation’s Capital Swim Club’s proposal could include two pools to serve area members and others, owner and CEO Tom Ugast said.

Depending its scope, the indoor facility on the former Army base could cost about $6.4 million, Mr. Ugast said.

Under one scenario, an aluminum and vinyl Quonset hut-like structure would house a “competitive/training” pool designed to accommodate a dozen, 25-yard lanes. That could cost about $4.4 million, according to Mr. Ugast.

Another calls for an addition that would contain a smaller pool with three, 25-yard lanes for teaching young swimmers. That could cost about $2 million, Mr. Ugast said.

Both concepts include the cost of real estate. Nation’s Capital has a contract to pay ECH-Vint Hill Associates LLC $610,000 for the proposed 3.2-acre site at Johnson Drive and Vint Hill Parkway, the club owner said.

A representative of ECH-Vint Hill Associates couldn’t be reached for comment.

The club leases 15 pools in Virginia, Maryland and Washington to serve approximately 1,850 members, Mr. Ugast said.

They include the old indoor pool at Vint Hill, the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Center (WARF) and the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center in Manassas.

If the proposed training center gets built, the club no longer would use those pools, Mr. Ugast said.

About 48, 55 and 200 club members swim at Vint Hill, the WARF and the Freedom Center, respectively, he said.

Nation’s Capital pays the WARF about $56,000 to rent lanes from September through mid-March, Mr. Ugast said. For year-round use, it pays Vint Hill and the Freedom Center about $40,000 and $180,000, respectively, he added.

Pool ownership offers several benefits, Mr. Ugast explained.

Among other things, it would give a club greater control over access to swim lanes and the ability to more efficiently train and teach swimmers under one roof, he said.

Ownership also would allow the club to generate revenue through programs, lessons and lease agreements with high schools that want a training venue, Mr. Ugast noted.

With a Vint Hill pool complex, the club could increase membership by catering to existing and future residents in the New Baltimore area and Prince William County, he suggested.

“I think down there, where we are renting, there are enough young people” to support a pool complex, Mr. Ugast said. “And, they’re continuing to build homes.”

Fauquier’s less expensive land prices in particular made Vint Hill attractive, he said. In Fairfax County, three acres would cost $2 million, making it impossible to develop the project, Mr. Ugast said.

Still, the project may prove too rich for the club.

“I don’t want to leverage the club to the point where we’re drowning in debt,” Mr. Ugast said. “It’s a balancing act of trying to make it happen.”

While Nation’s Capital would put about $600,000 in cash into the project, “maybe I need to wait a year or two years to get some more money put away,” he said. “The banks seem to be happy with it. But I gotta make the numbers work.”

The project would require site plan and other administrative approvals from the county.

USA Swimming — the sport’s national governing body — ranks Nation’s Capital as the “No. 1 swim team in the country,” he said.

Two former club swimmers — Katie Ledecky and Jack Conger — won Olympic gold medals. Twenty-five of its swimmers qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials — more than any other non-college U.S. organization, according the club.

“We’re looked at it as the team to look to see how you be successful, not only in running the business side of the club but how you train athletes to perform their best,” Mr. Ugast said.

The club employs about 90 full- and part-time coaches and has an annual budget of $5 million.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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Truepat · January 27, 2020 at 6:30 am
What a great proposal, let's hope the elected officials don't mess up this business opportunity......
Charlie Tupitza · January 26, 2020 at 5:53 pm
Great! I hope the National Capital team can figure out how to serve adults who want to swim competitively as well because the county lacks support for competitive adults, especially at the WARF, which is very sad (as a competitive swimmer for 60 years). NCAP certainly runs one of the top youth programs in the World and it will be a great plus for Fauquier county. This is very exciting!
Bob Markham · January 24, 2020 at 9:29 pm
This is great, maybe we can get new management at the WARF management that will be forced to treat people that use the facility better? Nothing like competition to force better service.
Jim Griffin · January 24, 2020 at 4:34 pm
Sell them WARF. Does the market support a pair of these in our county?
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