- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

Midafternoon means a packed pool, with toddlers splashing in water spouts in the shallow end, bigger children in line for the two winding slides and parents all over the place, talking above swimmers’ shouts.

A sunny summer day? Try winter break at the Cub Run Recreation Center in Chantilly. Cub Run, operated by theFairfax County Parks and Recreation Department, opened last spring. Its 4,860-square-foot leisure pool has been a hit ever since.

“There is something for all the kids here,” says Alexandra Bates of Vienna. Mrs. Bates recently brought her four children, ages 7 months to 8 years, to Cub Run. Her friend Denise Beatty of Manassas brought her six children, ages 1 through 9.

The leisure pool is divided loosely into sections that provide an indoor water park experience. Dominating the pool area are two big slides — a 20-foot open slide and a 30-foot enclosed tube slide. The enclosed slide goes outside the building, providing sliders a sort of surreal off-season experience. Children must be 48 inches tall to use the slides.

“We knew we were outside,” says Tim Davis, 11, of Vienna.

Adds his brother, Joe, 6: “I went on the inside slide. I wasn’t scared.”

Children younger than 7 can enjoy a water playground area. The area features zero-depth entry so swimmers can wade safely into the water, a smaller slide, and various fountains and sprayers for splashing. Children amuse themselves by pulling chains to divert water onto their friends’ heads and running under the changing waterfalls.

A vortex area allows more experienced swimmers to swim in water that swirls in a motion similar to that in a washing machine. The lazy river carries swimmers along on a current, and a shallow area is available for open swim. A spa area is attached to the leisure pool, so parents can relax in the bubbles while keeping an eye on their children.

Though the leisure pool is the hot ticket at Cub Run, the recreation center offers other activities. Next to the leisure pool is a 25-meter competition pool where swimmers can do laps. That pool also features two three-meter diving boards.

The competition pool features a state-of-the-art drowning detection system. The system, designed by Poseidon Technologies, assists lifeguards by monitoring what is going on under the surface of the water. Cameras are able to identify a moving body or one that is not moving normally. When the camera spots a swimmer in distress, it sends a message to a central computer, which triggers the lifeguard’s pager within seconds. The signal also gives the lifeguard the precise location of the swimmer.

Cub Run also features a large exercise facility. The nearly 10,000-foot gym, which overlooks the pool area, features a variety of weight and cardiovascular machines, free weights and plenty of flat-screen televisions.

Cub Run was built with families in mind. In addition to spacious locker rooms, there are family dressing rooms so parents can help children who should not be in adult locker rooms of the opposite gender. The center also has party rooms, making it a popular spot for swimming birthday parties.

Outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities for year-round nature exploration. Built among protected trails and Sully Woodlands Park, Cub Run has a staff naturalist and opportunities for organized and self-led nature exploration.

Visitors can walk the paths on site, stopping by the stream to look for frogs and tadpoles. The recreation center is within walking distance of a wildflower meadow and wetlands.

Cub Run offers a number of nature programs for schools, Scouts and the public. Upcoming public offerings include animal tracking (1 to 3 p.m. March 11 for ages 14 and older) and Streamside Settlers, a cultural history program in which participants will examine the remains of an old mill (3 to 4 p.m. March 25, for ages 10 and older).

When you go:

Location: Cub Run Recreation Center is at 4630 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly.

Directions: From the Beltway, take Interstate 66 for 11 miles to Exit 53B, Sully Road/Virginia Route 28 north. Turn left onto Westfields Boulevard and right onto Stonecroft Boulevard. The entrance is on the left, next to Westfields High School.

Hours: Open swim at the leisure pool is Monday through Thursday 3 to 6 p.m.; Friday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays noon to 8 p.m. Call ahead to check about closings for swim meets and other special events.

Admission: Admission ranges from $1.50 to $8.25 per person, depending on age and day of the week. Children 4 and younger are admitted for free. Fairfax County residents receive a discount. Family and group rates are available.

Parking: Plenty of free parking in lot.

More information: 703/817-9407 or www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/wcrec.htm

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