The rising sun bathes the expanse of turquoise water in a golden glow, and a lone figure breaks its still surface during her morning swim. So begins another day at the Ventura Aquatic Center, where meticulously maintained facilities and engaging programs coax swimmers of all ages into the refreshing depths. A 50-meter competition pool fields the backstrokes of lane swimmers, and a 25-meter recreation pool enables laid-back play sessions. Delighted squeals and giggles drift from the kids’ activity pool, where splashes of water keep little faces smiling and a pair of water slides facilitates high-speed entries. Throughout each day, a crew of American Red Cross–certified lifeguards patrols the premises to ensure the safety of all those frolicking in and around the pools.
Dedicated to educating and entertaining patrons, Ventura Aquatic Center’s seasoned instructors also host group and private swim lessons and water-safety classes. Synchronized-swimming lessons teach pupils the art of tandem movement, and lifeguard training prepares would-be rescuers for real-world rescue situations. Diving and water-polo teams unite players for in-pool athletics, and aquatic summer camps stave off the boredom and nostalgic re-readings of last year’s report cards inherent to the summer months.
The instructors at Waterworks Aquatics believe anyone can learn to swim, no matter their age. This belief drives each instructor-led session, accommodating everyone from babies as young as 3 months old who are just getting acquainted with the water, to older children learning more advanced strokes and adults learning to swim for the first time. The instructors focus on teaching stroke techniques that utilize muscle memory and rhythms that are easy to grasp, while cultivating a fun, relaxed environment to help reduce students' anxiety. They lead private, semi-private, group, and Parent and Me lessons, all of which move at the pace of the swimmers' abilities. Beyond bestowing swimmers with efficient form, the lessons also help them stay safe in the water by teaching them how to control their breathing, reduce unnecessary movement, and stay completely still in the presence of pool krakens to avoid begin seen.
Cliff Drysdale, a 45-time Davis Cup veteran, is more than a familiar face in professional tennis?he's one of its signature voices as well, having spent more than 30 years commentating matches on ESPN. Students of his coaching system get to tap into that deep well of experience at In-Shape Sport clubs all across California. At each location, experienced tennis pros lead four-week clinics that cover the fundamentals of the sport, organize competitive leagues for more advanced players, and tailor lessons to teens. Additionally, tennis socials help guests practice the sport as they meet fellow players and use particularly ferocious serves to deliver their phone number to an opponent.
Passionate about exploration, Bakersfield Scuba's instructors ready divers as young as 8 for aquatic adventures. They get students prepped with certification classes that include training in heated pools, open-water dives, and academic study. For those in training, or those ready to go it alone, they also provide rentals of all necessary scuba gear.
McDermont Field House wears a lot of hats. It's a fitness center that houses more than 50 cardio machines. It's an indoor soccer field that hosts open play and league games and a skate park that lures skateboarders with ramps and rail slides.
Elsewhere, its Eagle Mountain rock-climbing wall challenges visitors to scale more than 50 feet. But it's not a traditional wall. Instead of colorful foot and handholds, the indoor wall looks much like a real mountainside: the grey, cragged peak is unmarked, and climbers must figure out their own ways to the top. The field house also brings the ocean to the San Joaquin Valley with a FlowRider wave simulator that buoys surfers and body boarders.