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Cabot aquatics director emphasizes water comfort

By Kayla Baugh

This article was published January 8, 2018 at 11:10 a.m.

Steve Frye, acquatics director for the Cabot Parks and Recreation Department, stands beside the pool at the Veterans Park Community Center. Frye has been on the job since March 2017.

— Being in the water feels natural to Steve Frye — almost as natural as walking.

Frye has been the aquatics director for Cabot Parks and Recreation since March 2017.

Before moving into his current position, he worked as aquatics director for the city of Batesville.

“I was an aquatics director for five years before that for Dunlap Public Schools in Dunlap, Illinois,” Frye said. “I’ve been a swim coach for about 13 years total now.”

Frye said a typical day at work is pretty busy, but he truly enjoys his job.

“My swim team, the Arkansas Dolphins, practices from 4-6:45 every day, so my typical day starts at 7:30 a.m. after dropping my son off at day care, then ends around 7 p.m.,” Frye said. “I then head home to spend time with my awesome, super-supportive wife, Sarah, who lets me work this much; my son, Hudson; and our two dogs, Gatsby and Jasper. The swim team also practices on Saturday mornings, and we often travel out of the state on weekends to compete.

“I usually start my day off by checking all of the pools — three at the Cabot Aquatic Park and two at the community center. I also work on staff schedules and work with our fitness programmer to get our aquatic fitness classes in line. Right now, we’re offering five to seven aquatic fitness classes a day. We also offer swim lessons and parent-tot classes.”

Classes offered include Aqua Zumba, gentle aquatic classes, arthritis classes and high-intensity classes, he said.

Frye said general swim lessons are offered in groups, with an instructor-child ratio of 1 to 4.

“We offer four levels, and if they work their way up, we give them the swim-team option and see if we can’t make them lifelong swimmers,” he said.

Parent-tot classes are for children ages 2 and younger, he said, and parents play games, float around and work on water comfort with their children.

All aquatics fitness classes are free to community-center members, he said, but visitors can attend the classes by obtaining a day pass at the center for $3 or $5, depending on their age.

Swimming lessons and parent-tot classes cost $40 for members and $60 for nonmembers for eight meets, he said.

Frye said people setting New Year’s resolutions should start by just getting out and visiting the community center.

“If you’re needing help getting into the pool and figuring out something to do, come say ‘hi,’ and just ask,” Frye said. “I always say water comfort is the essential part of that formula. You have to be comfortable getting into the water; then work on your skills, whether it’s an aquatics class or instructor-led course. If you’re looking for the traditional ‘get in and swim laps,’ come talk to lifeguards, me or swim coaches. We have some great swim coaches here in Cabot who can help anybody in any age group really get their basics down.

“We have a New Year’s special going on; it’s $20.18 off any three-month membership, and you also get a five-punch splash pass to the aquatic park just for doing that deal.”

The Cabot Aquatic Park is closed for the season but will reopen on May 26, he said.

Frye said the community center now opens at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays.

“Those who have a Little Rock commute can come in, get a workout in the pool or on the track, hit the treadmill or lift some weights,” he said. “All of those things are available.”

The community center opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and at noon on Sundays, he added.

Frye said his favorite thing about his job is working with the Arkansas Dolphins swimmers.

“I would have to start by saying they are my family. I learned from my mentor coaches how important the swimmers are as people,” Frye said. “If my coach, [Paul] Beiersdorf, would have only been interested in how great we were as swimmers, then he probably wouldn’t have been much of a fan of mine. I wasn’t even close to the top of that list as far as great swimmers go that he has coached over the years. He took time to get to know the kids on the team and find out what kept their interest.

“So with my team, I again say, they are my family. I am interested in how they are doing in school, what they think is cool and how their families at home are. In turn, they also want to know how my family is doing and what I like. When my wife and I joined the Dolphins and started the site in Cabot, the parents of the swimmers were so amazing. When they found out my wife was pregnant with Hudson, they were so kind and showered us with love and support, and a bunch of cool baby stuff.”

Programs for all age levels provided by the Arkansas Dolphins are offered in Cabot, he said.

“I am the primary coach for the Seniors, but the head coach for the site itself, so I work with all the groups when I can,” Frye said. “I have two great assistant coaches, Collette Hughes and Justin Acree, who are a great help with the program, and I honestly couldn’t run it without them.”

Frye lives in Austin with his wife, Sarah, and son, Hudson.

“They’re awesome. My wife is a marketing representative and a hard worker. I’m happy with her; she keeps me on my toes,” he said. “Hudson just started day care a few weeks ago, and whether you have a good or bad day or anything in between, when you get home, it’s a life-changer. Seeing that smile is pretty much what I live for right now. I love my family, and we’re very happy here. I can’t really ask for much else.”

Travis Young, executive director of Cabot Parks and Recreation, said Frye is energetic and enjoys being around others.

Frye is eager to take on whatever is thrown his way, Young said.

“Steve has big aspirations for the aquatic programs,” Young said. “He is always coming up with ideas of how to make aquatics better for the citizens.”

Young said people who are interested in getting physically fit are encouraged to just walk through the door of the community center.

“The community center offers so many different types of fitness. We have a walking track, basketball gym, racquetball court, cardio equipment, barre and cycling room, free weights, group exercise classes, open swim and aquatic classes,” Young said. “We also offer personal training for those individuals who are just starting out or for those who want someone to push them a little harder in an area. We truly have something for everyone.”

Frye said swimming is a truly unique skill to have.

“We have people who come swim in their late 80s, doing it into their 90s and even 100 years old, out in competitions still swimming,” he said. “You can’t really do that in very many sports and activities. It’s just kind of awesome to be able to be in an environment where you hit all age groups, and everybody gets something from it. I’m glad to be able to help people keep going and help their lives be stronger since they got in the pool. A lot of people take the benefits of it for granted.”

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