But that’s just what happened for Baker, the new aquatics manager tapped to open the Cherokee County Aquatic Center.
Baker had been working as an aquatics manager in Virginia but jumped at the chance to come to Cherokee County when she was offered the aquatics managers position.
“It’s not like they build pools every day. When this sort of thing arises, you have to take a step back and look at the opportunity,” she said.
As aquatics manager, Baker will oversee all programming and operational aspects of the aquatic center’s indoor and outdoor pools.
In the months before the center’s opening, slated for late April or early May, Baker is concentrating on hiring, arranging schedules, setting policies and making sure the pools can open without a hitch.
She has already hired a pool technician and an aquatics coordinator.
Part-time positions, including lifeguarding posts, will be posted soon. Baker said the center will employ 70-80 part-time workers.
“Lifeguarding was a part-time job for me. You never know what can come out of a part-time job. And with lifeguarding, you get to be such an integral part of someone’s life. You could have the opportunity to save a life,” she said.
The center will provide certification for new lifeguard hires, but already being certified is a plus.
Baker first worked in aquatics management in college and was a pool manager at a satellite campus of George Mason University after graduation.
There, she was responsible for overseeing lifeguards and events, which included state high school tournaments and elite league tournaments.
She has overseen the grand openings and initial operations of two aquatic centers in Virginia since then.
Baker studied exercise science in college and is passionate about providing fitness opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels.
“I want (the aquatic center) to be something where everybody finds a way to participate. We are going to provide such a large amount of opportunity,” she said.
In addition to providing space for competitive teams, the aquatic center will be home to individual exercise and group fitness classes, as well as swimming lessons and recreation.
“It’s not just competitive or just recreational. We’re bringing so many different things,” Baker said.
She is hoping to attract high-school teams and teams competing with national swimming organization USA Swimming.
County leaders have touted the fact that the center’s operation is projected to pay for itself, even in the first year.
“That was important, to prove it could pay for itself. That’s going to be a huge responsibility for me, and I’m looking forward to meeting those goals,” Baker said.
Construction is being funded through a portion of the $90 million park bond approved by Cherokee County voters in 2008.
The center features a 50-meter pool that can be divided into 25-yard swim areas, a smaller indoor recreation pool and an outdoor recreation area including slides, a lazy river and leisure swimming areas.
“Even coming to the outdoor pool and playing is fitness,” Baker said. “That is a very big part for me, and it’s always going to be one of our concentrations.”
Baker lives with her fiancé and daughter in Acworth. She is expecting a son in March.
After leaving her native Virginia, Baker said she’s enjoying life in Georgia so far.
“It just has a different feel. People are so nice here. Everybody’s been so welcoming,” she said.