The Charlotte Water Project is a Grassroots effort to build a world-class aquatics facility in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The mission of The Charlotte Water Project is to support construction and ongoing upkeep of an aquatic center in Mecklenburg County that is a leading national competitive venue for aquatic events and a community center that extends the social, recreational, fitness and life-saving benefits of aquatics to all Mecklenburg County residents.
Under the Water
The Charlotte Water Project believes in Aquatics Opportunity for All, and is working to bring a national-grade facility to the Charlotte Area.
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Several individuals and organizations are already on board. Join the growing list of supporters and stay up to date on the project.
Follow the TCWP podcast for the latest updates as the project progresses.
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For years, members of Charlotte’s aquatic community have had to hit the road for major meets and competitions because of insufficient lane space, deck space and seating capacity at the 34-year-old Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. State-of-the-art at the time of its opening, the MCAC has been allowed to fall behind the times. While a 2015-16 renovation upgraded systems and the building’s appearance, the effort did nothing to address the MCAC’s unsuitability as a host for major meets, a reality punctuated by the loss of Charlotte’s stop on the pro swim tour and frequent closure of the venue to spectators when meet registrations exceed available deck space for swimmers, coaches and officials.
Competitive swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers and their families are all too familiar with traveling to Greensboro, Cary, Knoxville, Nashville or Atlanta for big competitions. Many have wondered why it couldn’t be the other attendees at those meets spending the night in Charlotte hotel rooms and eating in Charlotte restaurants.
TCWP founder Tim Whitmire was one of those people, and in 2018, he began a one-man campaign to build a new aquatic center on the site of the former Eastland Mall in East Charlotte. He was joined in that campaign by Shaynah Jerrell, owner and head coach of Aquatic Team of Mecklenburg, and Rodney Sellars, owner and head coach of Queen City Dolphins, Charlotte’s youth swim program for minority and low-income competitors. Brian Bucci, an ATOM swim parent, joined the team in 2021, contributing his knowledge as a developer to the effort.
In December 2022, this team along with community stakeholders Nadine Ford, founder of Evolution Aquatics – a program focused on aquatic skills, fitness and recreation in the Black adult community – and Doug Miller of the Miller Swimming adult swim coaching program, submitted a proposal to the City of Charlotte for construction of a state-of-the-art competitive and community facing aquatic center at the Eastland Yards site.
Through our engagement with our stakeholders, we have become convinced that a new aquatic center must also provide economically accessible learn to swim programs for all Mecklenburg residents and reclaim aquatic activities, fitness and competition for a segment of the community that has been unjustly shut out of aquatics for multiple generations.
In 1960, in the heart of the Civil Rights movement, Charlotte’s Parks Director was quoted as saying that nothing inflamed the passions of white residents like having to share public pools with Blacks. Since that time, Blacks and other communities of color in our city have been made to feel that swimming and other aquatic activities are “country club” sports that are not “for them.” The result has been multiple generations of depressed participation rates in aquatic activities among minority communities and a tragically elevated rate of drownings among such populations. A new aquatic center must address that history head-on and reclaim “Aquatics Opportunity for All.”
The city opted in May 2023 not to continue engaging with our Eastland proposal, but in the meantime, we had formed TCWP to draw the city’s entire aquatics community into our campaign and signal our intent to continue this effort until our city and county have a venue worthy of Charlotte’s status as one of the leading aquatics cities in the nation.
We are continuing our search for an appropriate location for a new aquatic center, with some exciting possibilities. Follow our TCWP podcast and join our mail list for the latest updates on our efforts.