YMCA Names Aquatic Center After Harris Rosen, Who Saved It More Than 25 Years Ago
ORLANDO (July 26, 2018) – The YMCA Aquatic Center at 8422 International Drive in Orlando has been officially renamed the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center in honor of Harris Rosen, who led the fight against the center’s demise more than 25 years ago.
Rosen, a prominent Orlando hotelier and avid swimmer, turned activist for the facility in 1992 when the private center, then called the Justus Aquatic Center, was shut down by the mortgage holder.
“I remember arriving at the center one day and finding some Special Olympians hovering about,” said Rosen. “One of the youngsters recognized me as a swimmer there. They asked me if they’d done something wrong, to have it closed. It broke my heart. I knew I had to do something.”
Respecting its place within the fabric of the Orlando community, and especially the swimming community, Rosen called upon celebrities, organizations, and even Orange County to help save the competitive swimming center.
Under his visionary leadership, the facility was ultimately gifted to the YMCA of Central Florida and revenue-generating programs were put in place to help offset operating costs. Rosen has donated millions to the YMCA, some of which will continue to be used for renovations over the next few years.
“Harris Rosen took it upon himself to save this facility, and, at the time, gave the YMCA of Central Florida one of only two competitive swimming centers in Florida. This allowed us to increase our impact in the Central Florida community and it is only fitting to honor him by renaming this facility,” said Dan Wilcox, President and CEO, YMCA of Central Florida.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition,” said Harris Rosen, President & COO, Rosen Hotels & Resorts. “I have been so blessed to be a part of this community and I hope this facility serves as a reminder to all the children and competitors who enter, that with courage, drive and determination, anything is possible.”
Additional capital renovation donors to the new Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center include: OUC, Lochinvar, Duke Energy, Modern Plumbing, Trinity Surfaces, Cree and Rentex.
The newly renamed Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center is a state-of-the-art facility featuring two Olympic-size swimming pools and new diving platforms. It is home for many competitive swimmers, divers and water polo players.
For Rosen, however, one of its biggest impacts to the community rests in the lives of the hundreds of children who have learned drowning prevention and swimming skills there.
“Who knows how many children have avoided water-related tragedies because of the programs here at the Aquatic Center. It truly saves lives, and I will forever champion the cause to keep our children safe in the water,” said Rosen.
The facility was also selected to host the 2018 UANA Pan American Masters Championships, making it the second-ever American site to host the event. The 2,500-athlete competition began July 25, one day after the Rosen dedication ceremony.
The 2018 UANA Pan American Masters Championship will run until Aug. 12 with events like swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open-water swimming. Competitors will represent 43 Swimming Federations in North, South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. It is believed that Orlando’s popularity will make this one of the largest swimming competitions in North America, outside of a World Championship. In a previous announcement, U.S. Masters Swimming CEO Dawson Hughes called the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center one of the “most respected” aquatic centers in the country.
“They have experience hosting large events and the facility, volunteers and community support to showcase this international event,” said Hughes in the announcement.
Rosen built Rosen Hotels & Resorts into the largest independent hotel company in Florida while never losing sight of those philanthropic roots, especially in relation to the community support of the facility. In addition to Rosen Hotels & Resorts being a hotel partner for the Pan American Masters Championship, it is an annual sponsor of the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center. Rosen has donated millions to the YMCA of Central Florida and currently serves on the board of directors for the Aquatic Center. The Harris Rosen Foundation has also contributed tens of millions of dollars to the founding and support of educational and youth-benefiting programs and scholarships throughout the Central Florida area.
About YMCA of Central Florida
For over 130 years, the YMCA of Central Florida has focused on strengthening communities through Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Operating 27 YMCA Family Centers across Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Marion counties, the Y is on a mission to improve the lives of all in Central Florida by connecting individuals, families and communities with opportunities based on Christian values that strengthen Spirit, Mind and Body. As one of the area’s largest non-profits, Y serves over 400,000 Central Floridians per year and employs 1,800 Y staff who join together with thousands of donors, volunteers and advocates to empower our community for good. To join the cause or for more information, visit ymcacentralflorida.com.