Ten minutes south of Wichita, Kan., is the growing community of Derby. Over the past decade, Derby’s population has increased
more than 20 percent. The Rock River Rapids Aquatic Park was
created to provide more recreation opportunities for the expanding
city. The aquatic park includes 145,860 square feet of aquatic
space with three main areas, a leisure pool, a lap swimming pool
and a slide complex that includes a lazy river. Among the themed
elements are wooden bridges and posts, rockscapes and amenities
such as the “jungle fort” water-play structure in the
leisure pool, all of which help give the facility a waterpark
As patrons come through the entrance gates, they first encounter
a wooden bridge leading to the leisure pool. This
10,068-square-foot, shallow-depth pool includes a zero-depth entry;
a therapy bench that shoots jets of water onto the backs of
relaxing guests; a number of spray features; and the fort play
structure, topped off with a 750-gallon dumping bucket. The bucket
is visible throughout the facility, and every dump cycle draws
people, old and young, to be drenched by its falling waters. To
keep patrons cool and comfortable, and allow parents to easily
remain close to their children, there’s ample deck space and
several shade structures in the water itself.
Located to the right of the leisure pool is a water-slide
complex with four distinct rides. A traditional body slide, a large
enclosed tube slide, a large open-flume slide, and a thrilling
drop-speed slide empty into a plunge pool that connects to a
603-foot lazy river, featuring a rockscape arch and waterfall.
Rounding out Rock River Rapids park is the 50-meter competition
pool, which sits to the left of the central leisure pool. In
addition to the eight swimming lanes, the pool also has a
recreational angle. Two drop slides sit side by side, and riders
fall several feet as they emerge from the short open flume
splashing into the water below. Across the pool from the drop
slides are 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards, multiple floatables,
and a basketball hoop.
In developing the project, the goal was a 40- to 50-year life
span, and the design team used a forward-thinking approach. The
resulting waterpark provides space for future additions and
amenities, including potential code changes such as increased
diving well depth or mandatory UV sanitization systems. Several
elements also were included to provide for increased usage, such as
oversized piping to allow for increased turnover and the fixed
lifeguard station on deck. Also, concrete mix surfacing was
selected to provide greater durability, along with high-efficiency,
low-rpm pumps and filters designed for less water consumption. The
water-conserving landscape design helps further reduce waste.
Throughout project construction and design, the Derby community
was an active participant. From the beginning, city leaders and the
recreation commission collaborated with a very active swim team to
establish goals for the facility. Once the construction phase was
under way, project leaders used local contractors and suppliers as
much as possible, and a sidewalk lined with engraved stones was
planned to display facility donor names. In its inaugural summer,
Rock River Rapids welcomed 140,000 guests, and since then the park
has become a testament to Derby’s successful civic
development. It serves as a premium outdoor competitive facility,
provides numerous programming opportunities and fulfills the
community’s need for recreation space.
NUTS & BOLTS
Aquatic space: 145,860 square feet
Year opened: 2004
Cost: $5.7 million
Dream feature: Three distinct aquatic spaces — a leisure pool, waterslide complex with lazy river, and a competition pool.
- Dream Designer:Water’s Edge Aquatic Design
- Site Testing:Geotechnical Services Inc.
- Aquatic MEP Engineering: Hoss & Brown Engineers
- MEP and Structural Engineering: Mid-Kansas Engineering Consultant
- General Contractor: Walz Harman Huffman Construction Inc.
- Buildings Architect: WDM Architects
- Chemical Control System: Chemtrol
- Dive Stands: Duraflex Intl. Corp.
- Filters: United Industries
- Heaters: Laars
- Ladders/Grab Bars: Paragon Aquatics
- Lane Markers: Anti Wave
- Lighting: Amerlite/Pentair
- Lockers: Bradley Corp.
- Pumps: Aurora Pump
- Rockscape Arch and Wall: Custom Fun
- Sanitization Systems: Stranco Aquatics
- Spray Park Accessories:Water Odyssey
- Starting Blocks: Paragon Aquatics
- Sun Shades:Sun Ports
- Water-Play Structures: SCS Interactive
- Waterslides : SplashTacular Inc.
ViewRock River Rapids Aquatic Park in a larger map.