Competitive swimmer pushes for Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center

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LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — One local boy has been swimming competitively for five years.

Jake Bridges is one of three competitive swimmers in Greenbrier County who are hoping the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center will get built.

He is a member of the team at the YMCA in Covington, Virginia. Bridges really goes the distance to compete. He drives 40 minutes just to get to the facility six days a week.

“It was long at first, but after a couple of years you get used to it,” Bridges said. “I do it everyday so, it feels like part of my day. It feels like going to school and going to class.”

That is why Bridges is pushing for the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center. Providing an alternative to traditional sports offered in Fairlea, the Center would also serve as a place where local youth could get involved.

“There’s some kids that do like, they watch the Olympics in the summer and they see Michael Phelps swim,” Bridges said.

After graduation, Bridges plans to attend college and make a splash on the swim team. He believes a scholarship would be hard to achieve since he started swimming later than most college-level athletes.

His mother, Kristie Bridges, is a Founder and Board Member of the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center. She said his ability to practice has been limited because there’s no pool close to where they live.

“Most kids who swim at the college level have been swimming since they were five,” Kristie said. “Most kids, by that point, are swimming, practices twice a day, 6 days a week. So, it’s just not possible to get to that level when you don’t have a facility close by.”

The Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center is over halfway to its goal of six million dollars. If accomplished, the center will be built in the parking lot on the grounds of the State Fair of West Virginia.

Officials with the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center are hoping to be fully funded by February 1, 2020, so they can break ground in April and have the pool ready by Summer of 2021.

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