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Aquatics Newsletter | April 2013 |
Natatorium Dedication at Great Neck


Whitehurst Family
Family of Harold S. Whitehurst at Natatorium Dedication Ceremony

On your next visit to Great Neck Recreation Center, take a moment to view the plaque placed outside the pool area. This aquatic facility was recently named the Harold S. Whitehurst Natatorium to honor the City's first Parks & Recreation Director, Harold S. Whitehurst (b. May 17, 1927 - d. April 13, 2012). The dedication ceremony was held Saturday, April 13 at the center with members of the Whitehurst family in attendance along with City dignitaries, friends and members of the community.

Whitehurst was the department director from January 1, 1963 to September 30, 1991. His dedication and guidance shaped the Department of Parks & Recreation into what is now recognized as one of the best in the nation. During his career as Director, Whitehurst achieved many accomplishments that have had a lasting effect to present day. Some milestones during his tenure include:

June 1966 - Little Island Beach Park was opened as the first seashore recreation area consisting of 144 acres.

June 1969 - Lynnhaven Municipal Marina was constructed and opened to the public as the City's first marina with 50 slips leased out for recreational and commercial boaters.

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May 1971 - Princess Anne Park opened as the City's fourth major park, which is currently undergoing major renovation to become a planned gateway to the Princess Anne Commons corridor.

July 1973 - Mount Trashmore Park opened, gaining international attention due to the unique aspects of converting a landfill into a park.

May 1977 - Kempsville Recreation Center opened as our first multi-faceted center with numerous amenities.

December 1982 - Munden Point Park, located on the Intracoastal Waterway, opened to the public.

December 1987 - A bond referendum was approved by the voters providing for the construction and operation of three large, multi-faceted community recreation centers and the renovation of the Bow Creek facility.

June 1990 - Great Neck Recreation Center and Great Neck Park opened to the public in June 1990 with Bayside Recreation Center opening April 1992, and Princess Anne Recreation Center opening in March 1994.

Get Ready to Get Wet at the Williams Farm Sprayground!  

SpraygroundSince Williams Farm Recreation Center opened last October, kids (and adults) have had a blast splashing in the pool, climbing the aquatic rock wall, slipping down the slide and playing in the pool playground. Just one thing has been off-limits and that's about to change. It's been too cool to enjoy the outdoor sprayground, but beginning in mid-May, we'll have it open for the weekends! After Memorial Day, the sprayground will be open every day, weather-permitting.


The sprayground is intended for young children through pre-teens and is a great way to beat the heat during the summer. You don't need swimming skills to enjoy the area. Kids of all abilities will have fun splashing through 18 play features which have playful sprays, squirts and mists of water that shoot from below-ground and above-ground features. 


Sprayground hours:

Monday - Friday | 11:30 am - 8 pm

Saturday | 9 am - 4:30 pm

Sunday | 11 am - 4:30 pm


A recreation center membership or day pass is needed to access the sprayground. Look for a specific opening date in next month's newsletter!

Swim Tip: Freestyle Pull


Arms feeling fatigued while you swim the freestyle? When your hands enter the water, try to pitch them at 15-45 degrees, so they'll enter the water more smoothly. This technique helps reduce the stress on your joints, allowing you to swim longer.

Giving Back as a Safety Camp Graduate


TrinitySafety Camp is a week-long camp for third graders held during Spring Break. As the name implies, the theme of the week is safety, from water safety and emergency response to drug education and anti-bullying. Last year, when Trinity Wilkening was in third grade, she participated in Safety Camp and had fun engaging in the week's activities, especially the time spent in the pool. This year, now a fourth grader, Trinity got to attend Safety Camp again, but this time as a volunteer.
Trinity is a Junior Lifeguard and volunteered her time during the campers' visits to the pool each day. From her viewpoint, she saw the campers get better at something every day. She watched them transition from being fearful of the water to fully submerging their faces underwater to retrieve rings. According to Trinity, the most exciting thing to see is someone learning to swim. When asked her impression of the swim instructors, Trinity felt they work hard and really want to help the kids, and they also have a lot of fun.
Overall, Trinity asserts that the most important skill taught during the water safety portion of each camper's day is learning how to swim. "Water is all around us; knowing how to swim helps you to be more safe," she says. As a Junior Lifeguard, Trinity was able to see how important rules are for keeping people safe while they enjoy the pool. She notes that she had to stop some campers who were trying to climb on each other and redirect them to play more safely. The swim instructors and lifeguards on duty really appreciated Trinity's help during the camp and hope she will inspire more young people to get trained and come join our safety team as volunteers.
If your child loves the water and is interested in assisting our lifeguards while learning new skills, consider registering them for a Junior Lifeguard class. This course also helps provide the on-ramp to becoming a lifeguard. *Note that the April class has already started, but we'll have classes beginning in June and July as well.
Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures


Bow Creek Recreation Center is closed for a long-term modernization project.
All Virginia Beach Recreation Centers and Owl Creek Tennis Center will be closed on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day. Parks will be open.

Don't forget that your membership is good at all Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed for maintenance, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator to help you find one!

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If you or your child require additional support, we can help.  Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions. Feel free to email us at
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Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA,
the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.