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Best country club/swim club: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

It's like being at the ocean. At the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., lap swimmers can swim toward the stretch of waves ahead of them without the mess of salt, sand and sea creatures.

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this aquatics facility boasts five vessels for all ages and activities: a lap pool; a high-tides pool; a family pool with water slide and zero-depth entry; a wading pool; and a spa. In addition, the club uses the ocean as part of its aquatics programming, offering classes in sailing and surfing.

All these were incorporated in response to an overwhelmingly increase in membership. In 2004, the club reconstructed the family pool to accommodate swim lessons, swim team and a diverse group of patrons. To do so, it turned the deep end into five 25yard lanes, and added a zero-entry at the shallow end with a slide.

With proximity to the ocean comes the danger of Florida hurricanes, as this club knows firsthand. As each storm passed, often leaving 8 to 10 inches of sand in common areas, the staff learned to deal with flyaway furniture, cleaning needs and deck protection. Such lessons have taken days off post-cleanup efforts, enabling the club to be the calm after the storms to its clients.--R.Y.

Best Practices

1 Plan ahead. From programming to staffing to membership, Ponte Vedra plans about three to five years ahead and aims to reach that goal. Among its goals, a focus on good staffing. The club recruits from universities and lifeguard agencies to ensure the best selection.

2 Maintain good relationships with upper management. Ponte Vedra's upper management plays a large role in helping the pool facility with safety and programming. As long as the aquatics department's requests are reasonable and affordable, they will always support them.

3 Connect with patrons. Ponte Vedra welcomes suggestions from members. As a result, their input was incorporated in the design of the family and wading pools.

Amenities & Programming

* Spas/hot tub * water slides * Open-water swimming area * Learn-to-swim * Lifesaving * Water aerobics * Competitive swimming * Kayaking * Sailing * Surfing * Adaptive Aquatics

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Publication:Aquatics International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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