Writer / Tia Nielsen
Photographers / Chris Williams and Tia Nielsen
Hot weather is steaming into town. What can you do at the new Freedom Springs Greenwood Aquatics Park that cools you down? Sisters Lauren Brown, 12, and Kenzie McAtee, 8, were eager to spend a day at the new water park that opened full-time May 30. The girls along with their grandmother Cindy Tollar take us on their journey.
A nice way to begin is with free parking. Thanks, Greenwood! While there are long lines for a single day’s admission, season pass holders to the water park sail through a gate that reads their pass digitally. Sweet.
Lockers are available to stash your valuables for a quarter outside the bathroom/changing rooms. The only minor problem was the key did not have a pin to attach it to a swimming suit. Instead, leave your key in a towel on one of the hundreds of lawn chaises.
LAZY RIVER: A COOL JOURNEY
The zero-entry depth makes it easy to walk into the river and slide into an inner tube. “Start off by grabbing the perfect float and pick where you are going to sit. Some floats have seats, so the little kids can enjoy floating around too,” says Lauren. “Getting in this way was new. It was my first time at the park,” Kenzie adds. “Of course, instructions come from sister.”
“I’m happy!” bubbles, Kenzie. “This really lazy, lazy river is relaxing.”
Sit out of the sun and enjoy some cooling off time in the cabanas, suggests Lauren. Cabanas with very comfortable seating can be rented for a half day for $30 or a full day for $50. Perhaps you’ll agree with Kenzie, “I feel like I’m on the beach!”
ACTION GALORE AT TUBES SLIDES AND BODY SLIDE
Lines fill all three levels of stairs ascending to the top platform where swimmers can plunge down either of the tube slides or launch down the body slide on an inner tube. Emily Kolis, 14, takes on the blue tube slide. No one has given a definitive word yet as to which slide is faster, the blue or the red. See what you think when you go.
LAP POOL AND TWO DIVING BOARDS
Kenzie decided she was not ready to dive in the deep end of the 25-meter lap pool. Lauren, however, thought as only a tween-to-teen would, “It may look big, but the diving board is one of the best spots at the pool where you can show off your awesome moves.”
A glance at the play area for young children shows a few of the cooling activities available. Jonathan Black, 2, loves the water table. This is one place he can splash water to his heart’s content.
THE LILY PAD CROSSING
Kenzie did tackle the Lily Pad Crossing successfully. “Lily Pad was really complicated and fun. I never thought I would step on a turtle!”
Mitch Renner, 5, also put his best effort into making the crossing. As health-minded Lauren notes, climbing across while hanging on to the rope really strengthens those bicep muscles.
“The park seemed well manned,” notes grandma Cindy. “It was easy to see everywhere.” The lifeguards patrol back and forth in specific zones of the entire aquatic park. They constantly monitor activities to keep guests safe. Every 15 minutes, they rotate to a new location in order to stay alert and focused.
The first day the pool was open, they had four water “assists” (rescues) in the first 90 minutes, said Isaac Hart, general manager for the facility.
All 50 lifeguards are certified through Ellis & Associates, an organization internationally known for its aquatics training. Lifeguards routinely face random testing by that company for any aspect of water safety or to demonstrate CPR on the spot.
One of the free picnic areas in the background offers shade for the sun-weary.
After all the sun and fun, it was hunger time. ”It was nice to snack in the shade and see the water,” says Kenzie. “I was hungry from the Lily Pad challenge!” Joined by new friend Grace Dawson, 9, the girls zeroed in on a bite bought at the concessions window.
Parks policy states no outside food can be brought in. The one exception is for birthday cakes.
“As a grandma, I was really relaxed,” says Cindy. “The lounge chairs were comfortable and very relaxing. Having the umbrella to sit under was a pleasant surprise. The girls liked seeing me as they went around the bend in the Lazy River.” Lauren, Kenzie and Cindy all agreed that it was a special day of water fun. And a great way to get cool!
SONS & STAY FIT SESSIONS
Guests filter out to the parking lot after a full day of water fun. Evening swim lessons begin 15 minutes after the general public hours end.
Fee-based swimming and diving lessons are available both before and after the normal aquatics park hours. Preregistration is required.
Stay Fit classes are before public hours weekdays. Stay Fit classes are free to season pass holders. Otherwise, there is a small daily fee for residents and nonresidents. Find details about the Greewnood water park by clicking here.