Little more than one month into its new program, the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center has been enriched with strong feedback from its sensory-friendly swimming sessions.
The Urbana Park District initiated the program in June, and the sessions – Fridays from June 8 to Aug. 17, minus a period in between for pool work – have proven popular.
“I have had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘We’re so happy that you’re doing this, it’s really awesome,’” said Leslie Radice, UPD’s aquatics manager.
The program fits well for those who appreciate a less-sensory-filled experience. “Basically you don’t have any of the water features on, so they’re able to come into the facility in a quiet space,” Radice said. “Once you have the water features on it starts echoing really bad and it’s harder to focus on the water. And the water itself is such a sensory for your entire body that those extra items make it even more difficult to enjoy the space at times. It lets people take their time, enjoy their environment and have something that isn’t as chaotic as 250 kids swimming during open swim time.”
Radice said she had “always wanted to have some type of sensory-free swimming for not only people with disabilities but anybody who feels a little overwhelmed.” The biggest challenge was creating time slots to make it happen. “It just finally fell into place this year,” she said.
The open slot is on Fridays during the summer. Pool maintenance from July 21-Aug. 10 will preclude those Fridays but another sensory-free swimming session will happen from 8:30-11 a.m. on Aug. 17. The program is not available during the school year because of programming conflicts. (The indoor pool is owned by the Urbana school district and operated by UPD.)
Regular admission applies: $4 swimmers, $3 spectators, free under age 4.