The History of Swim-in Zone Penny Pantano has been teaching children to swim for almost 45 years. She taught at the Allentown YMCA 1977-82. In Emmaus, she started The Meadow Pool Swim Club’s children swim lesson program in 1980 and then her own swim school during rented pool time at the Emmaus High School in 1982. In 1985, Penny joined forces with Mike Seip to initiate swim lesson program for the Emmaus Aquatic Club, a wonderfully successful and respected program of entry level swim lessons to highly competitive swim teams. After 18 years of growing that program, Penny was invited to join the Development Board of the Rodale Aquatic Center at Cedar Crest College and became their first Swim School Director upon opening in 2001. About that time, Penny told her husband “you know, I could have my own swim academy”. His only comment was “Uh, oh”.
The land identified as a perfect location in the fall of 2002 and was purchased from Stabler Land Corporation in March of 2003.
Ground breaking was October 4, 2003
Site Work began 11/6/03 with pumping 81 columns of high pressure cement in a 10’ by 10’ grid, with a 5’ by 5’ grid under the pool, 35 feet down to bedrock to support the building and over ½ million pounds of pool water.
Pool Excavation started on New Year’s Eve 2003
The building was taking shape by mid March.
The pool was finished 5/10/04 and filled 5/11/04.
We opened on May 28, 2004 at 5pm for our first birthday party in a very bare natatorium. The opening was delayed a few hours due to an uncooperative inspector trying to withhold the building permit for lack of completion of caulking of the windows. A candid conversation with Township Officials secured the occupancy permit later that afternoon, just in time for the party.
Dan Rummer had already moved here from Ohio to become our Facility Director in April 2004, finding his office had not yet been built and the source of his employment only a hole in the ground. Happily, he didn’t get back on the plane. On our first day of business, we suddenly realized that none of the 6 people opening the doors had ever worked a cash register, requiring a crash course and several very understanding initial clients. Our first summer session enrolled 256 students and the fall, 418. Penny’s daughter, Sue Schuster, then moved her family back to the Lehigh Valley from Florida to become Program and Scheduling Director. By spring 2005 we were teaching 810 students/wk. The following spring 2006 enrollment was almost 1000/week. We now teach a 16-level curriculum to 1200 to 1700 students a week, year round.
Swim-in Zone currently has almost 50 full time and part time employees. We have added ultraviolet sterilization, computer controlled chemical and pH balance, multiple energy efficiency upgrades, free outreach schools and day cares programs, local and regional seminars, and a full roster of special programs and weekly themes.
An important goal of our business plan was to fulfill the promise that “if you’re a 5-year-old, this is the coolest place in town”. We think we have achieved that goal.