Dedicated scuba instructors for more than 25 years, married mariners Dave Farrar and Margie Rhodes opened Gypsy Divers Aquatic Center in 2001 to fulfill their dream of offering aqueous awareness to all curious mammals. Students are outfitted with all the necessary equipment for the three-hour Try Scuba course, wherein a friendly, certified teacher will educate the wannabe wet-suited on the basics of underwater breathing, proper safety precautions, and kelp etiquette. After spending a few minutes acclimating to the experience in Gypsy Divers' warm, clean indoor pool, the wonders of the lavish submerged lifestyle, such as exploring a lost city or owning a shell-shuttered house with a kelp-picket fence, will reveal themselves to each aspirant diver.
A 36-month-old strokes his arms through clear water as his mother gently holds him afloat with her hands. Over the past few swim sessions, the little student has learned to submerge his face in the water and float on his belly as well as his back. After he and his fellow swimmers finish their parent/baby swimester, it's likely they may never experience the fear of swimming that many children begin to encounter around age 3. This type of insight into the developmental importance of swimming is what informs the instruction at Swim-U, Leesburg's child-oriented swimming school. The school's curriculum opens its lessons to newborns as young as 6 months old and to kids up to age 12 to instill water skills and the joys of fitness swimming from a young age. The Swim-U team comprises upbeat swimming professors who are the brains behind the company's special brand of instruction in swimming, as well as in child CPR and first-aid training and dunk-tank pitching.
From sprint triathlons to half-ironman distance races, cycling to running, FS Series knows the thrill of pushing yourself to surpass your old race times. The staff at FS Series enjoys a good race. Their passion drives them to create and host numerous races each year that challenge attendants to conquer land and water to reach the finish. With RFID Race Timing Systems, they get live, onsite records of racers’ start and finish times, rather than relying on an old man with a sundial.
Granite Falls Swim and Athletic Club’s members gain unbridled access to a 60,000-square-foot paradise of fitness and recreation, where indoor aerobics classes, sporting activities, and poolside recreation await individuals and families of all persuasions. When not absorbed by reality shows and C-SPAN soap operas on the exercise machines’ cardio cinemas, members can take lethargy to task in a range of aerobics, yoga, and Pilates classes hosted in the gym’s lower-level studios. Just next door, a competition-size pool opens its warm, watery arms with eight lanes and 25 yards dedicated to backstroke battles, recreational splish-splashes, and swim-aerobics classes (included with membership). An outdoor waterpark complex ups the aquatic ante with its large pool, lazy river, and a “Big Dipper” slide that momentarily shoots children into outer space for play dates with extraterrestrials. A separate KidZone area ($2.50/hour a child) staffed by highly trained professionals keeps tykes entertained with safe and stimulating activities while their parents hit the gym. The club also hosts special programs and summer camps for children, such as a Gym and Swim class for kids ages 4–7 and cootie self-defense courses for kids of all ages.
The pine forest adjacent to Wiggins Mill Reservoir has swallowed its share of golf balls in the past century. The 18 holes of Willow Springs Country Club can be found amid the forest's trees, as can a relatively flat and walkable stretch of 6,641 yards patrolled by herds of feral golf carts. If the par 71 layout proves elusive, players can enlist the constructive criticism of Class-A PGA member Jimmy Gurkin, the club's resident professional and its owner since 1989.
Course at a Glance:
For more than 30 years, Water World Scuba & Marine's experienced staff has mentored aspiring amphibians with a medley of scuba courses. The Discover Scuba class outlines basic subaquatic skills in an area pool, and outfits students with all the necessary equipment for a proper first-time plunge. Schools of 8–10 swimmers follow PADI lesson plans during the one-hour seminar, which permits pupils to flipper down to an average dive depth of 12 feet—the ideal depth for safely making raspberries at passing jet skiers. After the course, participants may opt to continue their underwater education and credit their time toward future PADI Open Water Diver certification. Aquanauts should call ahead to reserve classes, and must bring their own bathing suit, towel, and sea-snake-handling tongs.