Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training (FAST) is officially unveiling their state of the art swimming complex on March 26th, 2022 with their Grand Opening event which is open to the public! Come celebrate the opening of another world class sports facility poised to enhance the lives of our Marion County community members.
FAST, located southwest of downtown Ocala, is owned by the Circle Square Foundation, the non-profit arm of Colen Built, the largest landowners in Marion County. In 1975, the Colen family acquired nearly 13 thousand acres in Ocala from the Norris Cattle Company, to create On Top of the World, the first planned retirement community in the region.
FAST is strategically located within Calesa Township, Colen Built’s 1500 acre, family-centric, all age community which will offer amenity centers, an extensive trail system, neighborhood pools and the Ina A. Colen Academy.
“The mission of FAST is to train swimmers and athletes of all ages and abilities to go beyond their best through exceptional coaching, premier facilities, and cutting-edge athletic programming.”
Birth of the FAST Concept
The planned communities in the southwest area of Ocala all have swimming pools at the heart of their recreation centers. FAST was born in part by the Colen Family’s concern for swim safety within Calesa, their newest community. The concept of the larger swim center expanded when the College of Central Florida was in danger of losing their swim program due to loss of funding for their facility. FAST then evolved into a start of the art instruction and training center for swimmers of all abilities.
Along with being an elite competition and training venue, FAST will provide the local community with various programs, including swim lessons, drowning prevention, aquatic therapy and fitness, and life-saving water training for lifeguards and rescue personnel. The facility will also be home to local high school swim teams and the FAST Falcons home team.
The concept for the facility continued to evolve and now the Florida Aquatics Swimming & Training (FAST) facility promises to be the premier swimming, training and competition venue in the Southeastern United States. FAST will feature an indoor 10-lane 50m/25yd competition pool, a 7-lane 50m/25yd/25m outdoor competition pool, which was dismantled and purchased from the 2020 Olympic swim trials.
There is also a 2,475 sq. ft. dry-land outdoor fitness center and seating for up to 2,000 spectators! FAST club amenities include an outdoor splash pad and cabanas, community meeting spaces, the Fast Fuel Cafe, a TYR pro-shop and RV hookups for out of town guests!
Leadership Team & Key Players
The leadership team at FAST was hand selected to meet the needs of all ages and level of swimmers, with a focus on developing a world class training center for top level competitors. The Circle Square Foundation has recruited the best in the industry for their new venture, as noted below:
Brian Schrader – Head Swim Coach
Kevin Milak – Facilities Director
Anne Shawhan – Assistant Coach
Olympic Coach Gregg Troy – FAST Advisor
Rebecca Rogers – Exec Director of the Circle Square Foundation
FAST has been advised by Gregg Troy, the 2012 Olympic Team Swim Coach, who also was the head coach for the Cali Condors, the International Swimming Team and the Florida Gators Swimming and Diving teams. Brian Schrader has served as Lead Assistant Coach for the Cali Condors, International Swimming Team and he has coached teams to the 2020 League Championships with 18 American and 5 World records. He too has served on staff for the Olympics, as well as coached multiple NCAA championship men’s and women’s teams at University of Texas, University of Georgia, University of Denver and University of Florida.
Planned Events & Competition
In their first year, FAST plans to host FLAGS (Florida Age Group Champ Swimmers) championships in July for 750 swimmers. Home to the FAST Falcons, the calendar will include hosting swim meets for clubs, USA Swimming (middle and high school students), collegiate and master level swimmers.
The coaching staff plans to host out-of-state clubs for short runs and individual swimmers who will come for intensive seasonal training. Due to the international level of talent on the coaching staff, there are already inquiries and demand to hold NCAA swim and dive meets, with the future vision to host olympic trials.
Economic Impact on Marion County
In May of 2020 a study was conducted by the development and environmental firm, GAI Consultants, who published the results that FAST would create a 12% increase in year round visitation to Marion County. The report determined that the influx of tourists and new residents will require the need for more hotels, restaurants and businesses in the area, creating the need for new jobs and an estimated 12M in increased wages per year! A summary of the GAI report is below.
Accessibility & Sustainability at Heart of the FAST & Colen Built
The Circle Square Foundation is the non-profit entity formed by Colen Built and responsible for supporting a sustainable FAST, to serve all members of the local community. Inclusivity is at the core of their programming, including initiatives like Cannon Ball Kids, which offers free swim lessons to all Marion County 3rd graders.
Adjacent to FAST is the Ina A. Colen Academy, a new K-8 charter school slated to open for the 2022-23 school year. At the core of the Colen family’s objectives is to serve the greater community, and this new charter school will do so by offering free public school tuition to all Marion County residents.
In addition, it is important to note that the Colen family has preserved a portion of the Norris Cattle Company, called Circle Square Ranch, which remains an active cattle farm. It is located adjacent to Shalom Gardens, across the street from FAST, thus preserving the natural resources of the community. Circle Square Ranch remains committed to responsible land management, receiving the 2012 Environmental Stewardship Award at the Cattle Industry Conference.
Ocala Horse Properties wishes to thank Kinley Rogers, Strategic Partnership Executive, and Linda Massarella-Aiosa, VP of Marketing & Communications, who sat down with us to learn more about the grand opening of FAST located within the Calesa Community. We wish them the best of luck at their grand opening on March 26th, and encourage anyone interested to join the festivities! For more information about FAST’s aquatic training center and the grand opening, please visit FloridaFAST.com and follow them on social media @swimfloridafast.