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NOVA to add 1,000-seat mezzanine to aquatics center at Regency

Henrico announces $2.5 million grant for project that’s projected to generate $20 million in annual economic activity

Since opening in 2021, the NOVA Aquatics Center at Regency has helped to develop some of the area’s most elite swimmers. It’s also hosted high school meets and community programs, including those of the Henrico Police Athletic League and the Learn2Swim program of Henrico County Public Schools.

Soon, the indoor facility will be poised to host regional, state and national swimming competitions, attracting potentially more than $20 million in economic activity per year – an increase from $2.8 million currently.

Officials from Henrico County and NOVA Swimming announced today plans to construct a 1,000-seat mezzanine overlooking the facility’s signature eight-lane, 50-meter pool.

Supervisor Jody Rogish, wearing a light blue suit, standing at podium with microphones, both hands raised. Background is of balloons & indoor swimming pool.
Tuckahoe District Supervisor Jody K. Rogish

“That kind of activity will supercharge Regency’s revitalization,” Tuckahoe District Supervisor Jody K. Rogish said. “Just look at what’s happening around the Henrico Sports and Events Center at Virginia Center Commons, with new housing, restaurants and hotels. There, sports tourism is bringing new life to a tired, old shopping mall, and truly I can see the exact same thing happening here.”

To support the facility’s second phase of improvements, Henrico will provide NOVA with a $2.5 million sports tourism grant over five years. The nonprofit will launch a $1 million capital campaign. Construction is expected to begin in January, with completion targeted for fall 2025.

The NOVA Aquatics Center, built in the mall’s vacant, former Macy’s South department store, currently has bleacher seating for 1,000 on its pool deck. However, premier meets often don’t allow deck-level spectator seating.

NOVA CEO Leigh Peterson, wearing a beige suit, standing at podium with microphones. Background is of balloons & indoor swimming pool.
Leigh Peterson, NOVA CEO

By being able to host regional, state and national meets, NOVA will be able to attract up to 60,000 attendees – twice its current draw, CEO Leigh Peterson said.

“It means that our families will have to spend less to travel out of out of town. We will be able to bring the competition to us,” she said. “It means that we won’t have to crowd in the first-floor competition pool, carefully roping off athlete areas or even sit in the parking lot, waiting for your event to be called. It means that NOVA is going to finally own and operate a national-level facility that is as elite as our team is.”

“At the end of the day, that means that NOVA can continue its mission to develop swimmers,” she added. “To be taught to swim can save a life. It can build confidence. It can inspire dreams and, here at NOVA, it can deliver you all the way to the national, international or collegiate level of success.”

NOVA swimmers Harry Belchers and Crash Ackerly attended the announcement while preparing to compete next week at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, ahead of the summer games in Paris. Belchers, a recent graduate of Goochland High School, will compete in the 200-meter individual medley. Ackerly, a recent graduate of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, will swim the 200-meter backstroke.

A Press Conference in front of an indoor pool with a man at the lectern & people sitting in white chairs listening.
NOVA Press Conference, June 12

Belchers said he’s enjoyed traveling to meets in California and elsewhere but also appreciates the advantages of being able to compete close to home.

“Just thinking that they can hold the national meets here is pretty cool,” he said. “I can just drive 20 minutes down the road, and I’m in a really competitive meet.”

For more information on NOVA Swimming, including its programs and NOVAFit community memberships, visit

NOVA swimmers practiced in the eight-lane, 50-meter pool after officials announced plans to construct the 1,000-seat mezzanine. 

Young girls in bathing suits & red caps standing at the end of an indoor pool. Two are diving into the pool that is lined with red, white & blue floating lane markers.
Swimmers wearing red caps  are swimming in an indoor pool that is lined with red, white & blue floating lane markers.
Young boys in bathing suits wearing  red snorkels standing at the end of an indoor pool. Two are jumping into the pool that is lined with red, white & blue floating lane markers.
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