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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

New gymnastics facility set to open

SWAG has more than 20,000 square feet of space

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: August 22, 2016, 7:01pm

It has taken more than a year for Paul Rawlings to piece together Vancouver’s newest gymnastics facility.

But the Southern Washington Academy of Gymnastics — scheduled to open this month — is a dream that hatched almost by chance more than two decades ago when Rawlings went to pick up his twin sister from a gymnastics practice.

Within a week he was coaching at Naydenov Gymnastics, beginning a journey that continues as he opens his own facility.

That facility is in warehouse space at 3000 Columbia House Blvd., more than 20,000 square feet that in recent years has housed a volleyball training facility and mixed martial arts gym. The facility is just east of the Grand Central shopping center north of SR-14.

SWAG, as the gym will be known, will officially open once new bathrooms are completed. But Rawlings and his sister Paula Havlik are already working with a few girls on new apparati while construction continues.

A Portland firefighter, Rawlings and his sister are 1995 graduates of Fort Vancouver High School where he was a pole vaulter and she a gymnast. Until last summer, Rawlings coached competitive gymnasts at Naydenov in addition his firefighting job.

Like her brother, Havlik has been coaching for years. SWAG is her 10th gym, but she said she is excited to be coaching alongside her brother after years of good-natured rivalry between the twins.

They plan to offer both competitive gymnastics and recreational classes for girls upon opening. Rawlings said the plan is to add a boys program once there is enough revenue to purchase the needed equipment for boys gymnastics. He said that in its first year SWAG will offer all levels of competition for girls except elite gymnasts.

Rawlings said the available space will allow recreational and beginning classes to take place separate from those for members of the competition teams.

SWAG brings to four the number of gymnastics facilities in Clark County, joining Naydenov, Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy of Camas and Northpointe Gymnastics as gyms offering gymnastics classes and competitive teams.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter