SLO Swim Center: So Much More than a Lap Pool

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Outdoor pool provides community-focused programs for everyone. 

As you turn the corner at Laurel and Southwood on the southern edge of San Luis Obispo, nice townhomes and huge eucalyptus trees line the residential street. There’s no clue that at the end of the lane lies one of the city’s sparkling gems: the SLO Swim Center.

As mentioned elsewhere on this site (check out Andrew’s 100 Mile SLO Swim Challenge story), the Flavor Team loves to swim. Not competitively, not in a master’s program, but for the sheer enjoyment of being in the water, getting great exercise, and enjoying the sense of community and seeing familiar faces at the SLO Swim Center.

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Shawn Tucker, Recreation Coordinator of Aquatics at the City of San Luis Obispo-operated SLO Swim Center. Tucker oversees the day-to-day Aquatics Program and manages 25 to 40 staff, which includes lifeguards, cashiers, and operations and maintenance personnel.

Tucker’s passion is soon apparent: to share the benefits of aquatics in a variety of forms with everyone in the community. And we mean everyone.

“We are here for our community,” he said. “Our goal is to serve everyone and provide quality aquatics opportunities regardless of age or ability.”

Aquatics is in Tucker’s bloodlines; at one time, the pool in Shandon was named after his family. While in college at Cal Poly and following his graduation as a Parks & Recreation major, Tucker held Aquatics positions in Bakersfield and Cuesta College, and also moved to Alaska to open a pool there. Back to his native Central Coast, he joined The City of SLO Parks and Recreation Department in 2014.

Since then, he’s implemented several new programs and is the mastermind of the 100 Mile Challenge. “It’s modeled after a program that I helped develop with other Aquatics workers from the City of Bakersfield,” he said, although the SLO challenge mileage resets every year.

We are here for our community. Our goal at SLO Swim Center is to serve everyone and provide quality aquatics opportunities regardless of age or ability.

“This is the inaugural year for the 100 Mile Challenge, and we have 96 people enrolled. At the end of the year, we hope to have a get-together for everyone who participated.” Tucker, a former competitive swimmer, knows that swimming is a solitary experience. By gathering the participants, he hopes to strengthen the community and help like-minded people meet others who enjoy all the pool has to offer.

One of the beauties of the 100 Mile Challenge is the inclusivity that Tucker built into the program. Not only can lap swimmers earn miles, but those participating in aqua jogging and aqua aerobics can also log time and miles toward their official “I SWIM SLO” t-shirt, which is awarded upon completion of the 100-mile goal.

SLO Swim Center offers one of the only 50-meter lap pools in the county and is on school-district land, so it is home to school-based programs including SLO High School swim team as well as the Seahawks Swim Club Youth and Master programs, run by Coach Phil, assistant head swim coach at Cal Poly.

But Tucker wants the community to know the SLO Swim Center is so much more than a great lap-swim facility. “We have contracted scuba diving lessons, water polo club programs, and contracted triathlete clinics, plus youth swim/life lessons programs, and community fun events like our Dive-In Movie.”

“It’s my goal to spread the word that aquatics is more than swimming,” he said. “We want to provide what the community needs through aquatics. If people have an idea for a water-based activity, we want to hear about it. If it’s feasible, we’ll do our best to offer it and benefit our community.”

Some aquatic trends being considered are underwater hockey (it’s big in Europe) and yoga done on surf-board-like platforms. Another possible program is “Growth Through Aquatics,” which provides one-on-one exercise instruction to anyone with physical disabilities. The program is in development and may be offered at a later date.

As we wrapped up our conversation and headed out to pool to receive our official I SWIM SLO t-shirts, Tucker summed up the commitment that drives him and every person associated with SLO Swim Center.

“The pool is a place for everyone. It is about diversity and inclusion to provide all members of our community the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of water-based exercise and activities.”

Shawn Tucker, Aquatics Coordinator, gives us our official t-shirts for completing the SLO Swim Center 100 Mile Challenge / 2016.
Shawn Tucker, Recreation Coordinator of Aquatics, gives us our official t-shirts for completing the SLO Swim Center 100 Mile Challenge / 2016.

Come join the Flavor Team as we continue to log miles as 2016 winds down at the SLO Swim Center. Better yet, sign up with us for the 2017 100 Mile Challenge as part of the Great Flavors Swim Club. Send us an email at We’ll see you in the water!

— Kara

For more information:
SLO Swim Center
SLO Swim Center
902 Southwood Drive
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department
The City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department

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