Friday, July 14, 2000

Swimming meet tests new pool

Facility fulfills owner's dream to keep top competitors home

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        ERLANGER — Richard Dickman is betting $2.5 million on the notion that people will swim in his pool, lift weights on his machines and shoot jumpers on his basketball courts.

        Mr. Dickman opened Silver Lake Recreation Center on Kenton Lands Road in May. But the facility's biggest test begins today , when the USA Swimming Ohio A/B Championships begin a three-day meet.

        The meet will at least attract 650 contestants and their parents, Mr. Dickman said.

        “There could be close to 3,000 people, and they're coming to Northern Kentucky.”

        Mr. Dickman's father, Don, runs Dickman's Kentucky Sports Cafe, a restaurant on Orphanage Road in Fort Wright. For the son, however, Silver Lake has been a dream for some time. He swam for Covington Catholic High School 20 years ago.

        “My goal was to get people to think of swimming as not a minor sport,” he said. “I want people to realize there are a lot of values that can come from swimming.”

        And Mr. Dickman wanted a larger pool than the only other large one available, at Scott High in Taylor Mill.

        “I saw kids were getting turned away because there wasn't enough pool time at Scott High School,” he said. “The recreation center was a way to finance a pool, to bring in enough money to make it all work.”

        Silver Lake's pool is 50 meters long, and has room for 10 lanes. Mr. Dickman said there is seating for 600.

        The Northern Kentucky Clippers swim team trains at Silver Lake. Coach Craig Leonard said having the pool means he doesn't automatically lose talented swimmers to the nationally ranked Cincinnati Marlins or the Anderson Barracudas, which have ample facilities.

        “It was a sore subject on this side of the river,” Mr. Leonard said.

        “With the inception of this great, beautiful facility, nobody's left our club this year. We have had kids come back over from the Marlins.”

        Center director Doug Hewling says the club has a lot for non-swimmers, too.

        There are four multipurpose courts for basketball and volleyball, and a fitness center with strength and cardiovascular machines.

        “We'll have classes for kids and adults.... We're family-oriented.”


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