Saturday, August 30, 2014

Indoor pool staying afloat as membership fills again

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 1/10/2014

One of the users at Swim For Life Aquatic Fitness Center told Rick Deitz that if it wasn’t for coming to the pool three days a week, she would be living in pain, Deitz, Swim For Life co-owner, said.

The indoor pool, 913 E. Wilson St., Ottawa, reopened in early October and has since allowed community members to take classes and use the swim lane for healthful exercise, Deitz said. The facility had been closed since 2009.

One of the users at Swim For Life Aquatic Fitness Center told Rick Deitz that if it wasn’t for coming to the pool three days a week, she would be living in pain, Deitz, Swim For Life co-owner, said.

The indoor pool, 913 E. Wilson St., Ottawa, reopened in early October and has since allowed community members to take classes and use the swim lane for healthful exercise, Deitz said. The facility had been closed since 2009.

“There is always a swim lane for people who want to do laps,” Deitz said. “We are also offering water aerobics classes several times during the day. At 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., we have an arthritis class and 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. we have exercise classes that vary in how intense they are. It is all personal and based on how much you want to do and how much you don’t want to do.”

Deitz, rural Ottawa, co-owns the pool with Alan Wright, Baldwin City. They purchased the 11-year-old building in 2012, and Deitz said people have been swarming the facility for classes, exercise and warm water since opening in the fall.

“The people that come in are so enthusiastic,” he said. “It makes such a difference in their lives, and it is such a positive way to spend your day. They are so happy that it is open again.

“Yesterday we had about 29 to 30 people come in [during the] day,” Deitz said. “They are so positive and interact with each other in a positive way, kind of like a support group. I never expected that.”

The owners were able to keep the original name of the pool, Swim For Life, and after more than three months of business, the facility is moving toward the number of members it had before it closed in 2009, Deitz said.

“Previously, when it had been open, they said they had around 150 members, and we are halfway to that already,” he said. “At about 150 members, we will be self-sustaining. We are covering all our costs except for employee hours.”

By the end of January, the pool will be open 85 hours a week, Deitz said. The pool, which now is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, is expected to expand its weekend hours for more programs and family swim time, he said.

“We will start out with swim lessons Saturday mornings and have the pool open for family swim Saturday afternoons,” he said. “We are also open from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. We are looking forward to getting the word out and having the pool utilized even more.”

Swim For Life, which opened about a month and a half after the Ottawa City Pool, 310 N. Locust St., closed for the summer, will remain open to be used year-round, Deitz said.

“We are just kind of working our way through this business,” he said. “We were surprised in talking to other indoor pools that things don’t slow down for them in the summer. The folks that have arthritis, they need to have a heated pool. Anyone who is doing range of motion exercise, therapy and recovery needs that warmth. We keep our pool at 84 degrees.

“Interestingly enough, it doesn’t take away from the city [pool] because that is where the kids and the families are going to go who want to do all the diving boards and the extra stuff.”

Those with arthritis are not the only ones benefiting from the heated pool, Deitz said. Athletes from the community also have come in to recover from injuries.

“At Ottawa University, the track coach has already found us, and some of the cross-country runners who had shin splint injuries were able to come in and exercise at the pool with little to no impact, and they were able to recover mid-season and still finish out their seasons,” he said.

Deitz is interested in helping more athletes, he said.

“We are going to be out in the community to see how the pool can work with them,” he said. “Obviously, we will be meeting with the high school and junior high, so we can see if there is any exercise program for athletes to recover.”

Swim For Life is not specifically for those injured or seeking recovery. The pool is open to all who purchase a membership, which is much more inclusive than other indoor pools, Deitz said.

“Most pools charge you a monthly membership and then charge you for each class,” he said. “The monthly membership is $35, which is less than it was before and that includes all the classes. It looks like we are going to be able to offer the classes every day of the week and the membership fee includes those classes. We also have a daily use of $5 per day.”

Adults can purchase the membership, but parents are not allowed to just drop their kids at the pool, Deitz said. All children who swim at Swim For Life must be accompanied by an adult.

Swim For Life also plans to allow birthday parties on Friday and Saturday evenings at the pool by the end of January, Deitz said. Parents will be able to rent out the pool, and must hire a lifeguard themselves. All Swim For Life staff are lifeguard certified, but Deitz said they are planning to coordinate with the Ottawa Recreation Commission for lifeguard coverage for birthday parties.

Though the pool is making strides, Deitz warned against consulting the Swim For Life Facebook page for information.

“The Facebook page does not have the correct information,” he said. “The page doesn’t have the correct number, fees or times on it. The new phone number is (785) 214-3787 and it is on the side of the building correctly. We are working hard with Facebook to try to get that changed.”

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