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By Mickey Patterson

BUCKNER – For the past 15 years Laura Feese has spent her time making the lives of Oldham County’s kids a bit more fun and even more healthy.

As director of the John W. Black Aquatic Center since it opened, Feese started the Oldham County Piranhas swimming program that fields a team of more than 170 kids from ages six to 18 every summer.

With their numbers and dedication, the Piranhas have become a Louisville Swim Association powerhouse.

Feese, however, has stepped down as the coach of the Piranhas and is taking on a new challenge to make the aquatic center more accessible and popular with the adults.

“The whole point of doing this is we have always catered so much to the kids and have been successful with it,” Feese said. “Adults need the exercise too, the stress relief. When you can’t run anymore, when you can’t bike anymore because of injury or anything, you can always swim.”

To gain adult participation Feese is taking a pair of routes. The first is by offering water fitness classes.

Feese teaches the classes and has more than 20 years of experience in the field working at the University of Louisville. Classes started May 28 and are still open. They run from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

The classes include flexibility training, stretching, aerobics and muscle building. Water fitness is often recommended as a treatment for back and joint pain.

“We want to encourage more adults to get out and exercise and this is a fun way to do it with great benefits,” Feese said. “The best thing is you don’t need any swimming skills and it’s a great workout.”

Feese is also hoping to get a Master’s swimming program started in the county.

A nationwide program, the Masters program is for anyone over 18 and for all skill levels.

There are nine teams in the state and four in the metro Louisville area at Lakeside, the Mary T. Meagher pool and Baptist East along with a team in Southern Indiana.

More than 500 swimmers take part in the program in the area.

“There are a lot of people from Oldham County in the Masters program and it’s easy for them to go into work in Louisville and then go to the pool,” Feese said. “We have had 10 to a dozen inquiries about a program out here so we are looking at it. It will probably take a little time to get up and running.”

To aid the start, Feese supervises coach-led workouts from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays.

The pool is also open 11 a.m. to noon Sundays for dedicated lap swimming before the center opens at noon.

Feese said there are always lap lanes open at the pool where adults can swim for $3.50. Those training for the mini-triathlon can swim for $3.

“If someone wants to polish their skills and give it a try, the coach-led sessions are a great place to start,” Feese said.

 E-mail us about this story at: sports@oldhamera.com