A certain magic occurs when immersed in water. The cool, clear element–unlike none other on Earth–flows over your skin, providing instant relief to heat, tension, and anxiety. You submerge, gliding through the liquid, weightless. You forget your troubles and worries as you swim, free. Covering 71 percent of the planet, and composing a significant portion of our bodies, it is little wonder how or why water is so important to us. It is in us, and we need it to live. Perhaps this can explain why so many of us flock to aquatic sport and activities.

This love of water is not only something competitive athletes understand, but also recreational swimmers, therapeutic recoveries, fitness enthusiasts, and those who wish to just float. Although some may argue that competitive aquatic athletes feel this need the most, compelled to spend hundreds of hours exercising and competing in the stuff, one need only go to any of the city’s pools and see the happy faces at a public swim, or the relaxed determination of the neighborhood lap-swimmers, and you’ll agree: pools provide an essential service in this city.

So why not construct a monumental indoor facility, to train, play, compete, or to simply have fun? The quest to build a state-of-the-art, international caliber aquatic complex in the heart of the nation’s capital is one that should be embraced as a wonderful and much-needed possibility. Recent isolation measures because of the coronavirus outbreak have exemplified this need. When restrictions lift and the city pools re-open, citizens will return to pools, rivers, and lakes to dive in the water, shake off the bonds of isolation, and douse the heat of the oncoming summer.

Sports teams will flock back to pools to catch up on their training. Water polo players will converge on the Ottawa Titan’s coveted summer league, divided into teams sharing the allotted times. Swim teams and masters, triathlon, will all be striving for lost ground, regaining their excellent and well-earned swim shape, stroke by stroke, lap by glorious lap. Divers will once again plunge into the tanks, twisting and flying through the air, cutting into the cool blue. Artistic swimmers will glide and dance through the water with grace, artistry, and precision.

But in Ottawa, there is only so much pool time to go around. With the creation of the NAqC (National Aquatic Complex) envisioned on these pages, clubs, leagues, competitions no longer will be hand-cuffed by available time. It will augment existing infrastructure and provide a brand-new, central location for aquatic sports excellence. Such a center will provide the region’s water polo clubs, swim, artistic swim, and diving clubs with enough extra space to train and compete, and the city will be churning out Olympians and national team athletes at a record pace!

Ottawa’s pools are aging and will need to be maintained, replaced, and increased to meet the needs of a growing city. Why not take the time now to build the ultimate aquatics complex in the heart of Canada? One not only capable of meeting the needs of the city, but of the province, country and world. Like the London Aquatics Centre, in London, England, the National Aquatics Centre in Dublin, Ireland, and the Trumbull Aquatics Centre (Denison University) in Granville, Ohio. These types of buildings are the penultimate water experience, a shrine to all things aquatic. We can attract worldwide competitions for such things as the International Swimming league and FINA sanctioned events.

The city and its citizens need hope for the future, and NAqC CEO Peter Lawrence’s dream is giving us that. He has worked for the past three years, talking to experts, builders, architects, financiers, aquatics clubs. He’s assembled a team to bring this dream into a reachable reality. People are getting it, people are listening. It’s no longer a ‘far-off, nice-to-have daydream,’ but becoming a ‘hey, we can do this. We can build this incredible facility and make the dream happen.’ This amazing building with the best pools modern technology can provide can be built in the heart of the city within walking distance of public transportation. All we have to do is believe.

This isolation will not last forever. We will beat this current situation, and humanity will rise, and once again reach for the pinnacle of human experience–sport, fitness, excellence. The common denominator is hope. Hope for the future. Hope for a better day. This will be a world-class complex for the public, for the city, for the country and the world. Athletes and users of all stripes: competitive, stay-in-shape, disabled, recreational will love and cherish this wonderful aquatic complex. We need to dream big in uncertain times. Invest in the future, our athletes, and our citizens. Once again we will dive into the waters and be free.

By: Nicholas Forster