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Olympian breaks ground on aquatic center

October 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A four-time Olympic gold-medalist was on hand to mark groundbreaking on a new aquatic center in the Mid-city area.The pool at the Westside Jewish Community Center is where Olympian Lenny Krayzelburg used to swim while training in the early 1990s.

The aging pool needed a facelift, so it closed for four years. When that happened, the JCC lost one third of its members. Now, the Olympic-sized pool is going to be rebuilt as part of a new aquatic center.

Lenny Krayzelburg is the spokesperson for the center. He will bring back his swim school for kids.

"If you're in the public eye and if you're privileged enough and talented enough to compete on the highest level of sports, there's a responsibility that you carry. And with that responsibility, there's going to be thousands of youngsters looking up to you and wanting to be you one day. So you have a responsibility to behave the right way and carry yourself in the right manner and not get in trouble," said Krayzelburg. "And also, give the message that you can achieve success if you're willing to work hard."

Krayzelburg, along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other dignitaries were on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $4 million aquatic center. More than 1,200 kids will use the center each week.

The JCC has been accommodating families for more than 50 years.

"It's a great asset to this surrounding community. And, a great tribute to the Jewish community here on the Westside ... Who, after they lost funding from the federation, kind of come together and raise the money to make sure the kids have a place to swim," said Villaraigosa.

Krayzelburg says the key to his "Learn to Swim" program is water safety especially in Southern California.

Since Krayzelburg's Olympic wins he has since been married and is the father of twin girls.


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