With declining attendance and revenue, it was evident that the two existing traditional pools in Aberdeen, S.D., had lost their appeal. Approximately 40 percent of pool operation costs were subsidized every summer. Additionally, an evaluation identified numerous structural and mechanical problems and a cost benefit comparison indicated it was more economically feasible to build a new facility rather than renovating the existing pools.

The choice was clear, a new facility was in order, but what should it look like? The Outdoor Family Aquatic Center Committee, Park Board, and community leaders developed several planning goals and objectives. They stipulated that the new facility should:

  • Operate close to 100 percent cost recovery;
  • Provide the public with recreational swimming opportunities, even when there is competitive swimming being hosted by the community;
  • Include ample parking;
  • Offer expansion options.

The result was the Aberdeen Aquatic Center. The new $7 million facility replaced the aging pools and serves both leisure guests and competitive swimmers. The Center includes a 250-foot lazy river and a 9,000-square-foot leisure pool with zero depth entry, three waterslides, and a multi-level interactive water play structure.
For those with a need for speed, there’s a separate eight-lane, 50-meter competition pool. The competition pool was designed for competitive meets; however, it can also be used recreationally for water polo, basketball and other activities. Children love the primary colors and removable floatables in animal shapes—a dinosaur, alligator, snake turtle and crab.

After almost a year and a half of construction, the community celebrated the grand opening of the Aberdeen Aquatic Center on June 30, 2007. Today it serves a multigenerational public, including seniors, parents, teenagers, children, toddlers and infants. Looking forward, there’s room for growth, including expansion space for the lazy river, and room for additional parking and a sand play area. Ultimately, combining competitive and leisure components into one facility provides a spectrum of activities that compliment one another well.