ORLANDO (April 5, 2021) — If you ask Harris Rosen how things are going at the new Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center (RAFC) in Orlando, most likely he’ll respond “quite swimmingly.”
The new Rosen-owned and operated facility, gifted to Rosen last October from the YMCA of Central Florida, opened today, Monday, April 5, to the general public, after having been closed for renovations since last fall. As a warm up, the newly enhanced facility has been hosting prestigious swim meets throughout March 2021.
A New Era in Orlando Fitness and Aquatics
Rosen was gifted the former Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center — now the RAFC — from the YMCA of Central Florida, preserving it from closure for the community, charities and local to international competitive aquatic teams and individuals who had come to rely on the 35-year-old facility on International Drive. While the transition occurred this past October, the purchase was 28 years in the making.
Rosen, a prominent Orlando hotelier and avid swimmer, turned activist for the facility in 1992 when the private center, then called the Justus Aquatic Center, was shut down by the mortgage holder.
“I remember arriving at the center one day and finding some Special Olympians hovering about,” said Rosen. “One of the youngsters recognized me as a swimmer there. They asked me if they’d done something wrong, to have it closed. It broke my heart. I knew I had to do something.”
Respecting its place within the fabric of the Orlando community, and especially the swimming community, Rosen called upon celebrities, organizations, and even Orange County to help save the competitive swimming center.
Under his visionary leadership, the facility was ultimately gifted to the YMCA of Central Florida and revenue-generating programs were put in place to help offset operating costs. Rosen also helped by donating millions to the YMCA through the years. In 2018, to honor his extreme dedication, the facility was renamed the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center.
“Did I ever envision owning a facility like this? Not in my wildest dreams,” said Rosen, who as the Southeast’s largest independent hotelier, has owned and operated Rosen Hotels & Resorts for close to 47 years.
“These are not necessarily the times when one would take on such a project. However, I came to realize that perhaps these are just the times when we need to preserve any normalcy that we can and any opportunity to maintain our health,” said Rosen. “Hearing from so many in the community who would be devastated by its closing, I felt compelled to help keep the doors open and appreciate the partnership of the YMCA of Central Florida in allowing me to do this through their generous gift.”
Rosen Brand Standards
In recent months, the RAFC has undergone a deep cleaning, multiple renovations and a general sprucing up, elevating it to Rosen standards to open to the public. Vacationers and meetings attendees who have stayed at one of the eight Rosen convention and leisure properties in Orlando know what to expect — unrivaled customer service, well-maintained, innovative facilities and a laser-like focus on guest and associate well-being. RAFC members and aquatics competitors also will become familiar with and benefit from the Rosen standards. As the facility opens to the public, it also features heightened safety and wellness protocols in response to the recent pandemic, implemented as part of Rosen’s Total Commitment™.
While enhancements ensue, defining world-class elements remain. One of the largest competitive swimming facilities in the Southeast, the RAFC boasts one of only seven indoor performance diving rooms in the nation and is known as one of the fastest tanks in the nation. The 10-meter dive tower and 50-meter competition pool are unrivaled in the state, with the pool easily transitioning from indoor to outdoor with a first-of-its-kind hydraulic retractable roof. Numerous world and American records have been set over the years at the facility by Pablo Morales, Janet Evans, Matt Biondi, Tom Jager, Dara Torres and others.
There is no shortage of familiar faces welcoming members. Mike Miller, who for the past four years has served as director of aquatics, events, programs, and finally, operations at the former facility, is the executive director of the new RAFC. Previously, Mike was the aquatic and operations director at SPIRE, a renowned Olympic and Paralympic training facility in Geneva, Ohio, among other sports-industry positions.
In the true spirit of The Harris Rosen Foundation, which owns and operates the facility as a 501 (c) (3), the RAFC is dedicated to elevating the quality of life of its members and visitors both locally and from throughout the world.
“Ultimately, our goal is to be an inspiring fitness center to support the community and visitors with their wellness goals, while continuing to be a world-class facility where athletes of all ages and levels from around the world come to enhance their aquatic abilities,” said Rosen.
In March, the RAFC hosted the prestigious National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) National Championships for seniors and age groups. And in 2022, will host the National Special Olympics swimming competitions. The RAFC also will continue to serve as the host training facility for the local Man-O-War Special Olympics swim team.
Cheering on the Special Olympics team from the sidelines is sure to be a familiar face, Harris Rosen. No doubt he will be there to complete part of his fitness regime — a daily 1 1/2 mile swim in the 50 meter pool, and to keenly monitor RAFC services and operations to ensure they uphold Rosen standards.
Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center — Memberships and More
Memberships are currently available for individuals and families, with discounted rates for Central Florida hospitality industry employees, and include use of the swimming pools, as well as all of the workout equipment and related facilities and programs. Special hourly, daily and multi-day drop-in rates are available for out-of-town visitors.
Examples of rates include $20/monthly for teens 13-18; $30/monthly for young adults 19-25; $70/monthly for families and $30/monthly for seniors 65 +. Silver Sneakers participants are free. For out-of-town visitors, rates start at $5 for two hours; $10 for one day and $30 for one week.
For more about membership fees, please visit RosenAquatic.com/membership.
Portions of the facility also can be booked for private events such as birthday parties, corporate wellness and special swim events. Healthy and inventive catering menus will be available from Rosen Hotels’ award-winning catering.
About the Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center
The Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center (RAFC) is a world-class membership facility serving Orlando residents and visitors to an international community of aquatic athletes. One of the largest indoor competitive swimming facilities in the Southeast, the RAFC features three pools: 50-meter with a first-of-its-kind hydraulically retractable roof, 25-yard teaching pool and 25-yard diving pool, while boasting one of only seven indoor performance diving rooms in the nation. For fitness goals, the RAFC offers a workout/wellness center, racquetball court and annually teaches hundreds of community children drown-proofing and swimming skills. A passion for swimming and decades-long support prompted Orlando philanthropist and hotelier Harris Rosen to accept the facility as a gift from the YMCA of Central Florida in October 2020 to preserve it from permanent closure after the forced lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rosen Aquatic & Fitness Center is located at 8422 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. For more information, please call 407-996-3444, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit RosenAquatic.com.