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A YMCA wanted to use an outdoor pool in the winter, so it added a giant bubble dome

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 @ 12:01 PM
By: Michael D. Clark

There is now a tropical paradise available under a giant plastic wrap, and more Lakota YMCA members are wading in to get a break from the brutal cold.

Butler County’s largest rubberized swimming pool is now bathing swimmers in a 84 degree atmosphere while the thermometer outside struggles to rise into the teens.

The Liberty Twp. YMCA invested $500,000 in the 25,000 square-foot-dome, which was opened in November.

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“It’s 13 degrees outside, but 84 in here,” said John Schaller, chief executive officer of the YMCA, as he stood poolside in the outdoor swim area that traditionally was drained for every winter until now.

“The palm trees (rubber facsimiles) are up in the … beach area of the YMCA pool, and you can just see by the happy faces that this is a great retreat for the families in our area for the community to get out of the cold and get into a beautiful setting for indoor water play,” Schaller added over the din of an artificial waterfall and real-life, playful laughter of kids splashing around.

“It’s just been a spectacular addition to our Y,” he said.

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The 25-meter pool features eight lanes for competitive swimming and a zero-depth beach entry for senior citizens to participate in Silver Sneaker fitness programs. In addition, all of the other pool features, such as the water slide, will be able for year-round use.

Karissa Tejada, mother of three young swimmers, paused between splashes to rave about the new cold-weather option for fun.

“This is awesome. It’s the end of December and 11 degrees outside and we can be in here enjoying the beautiful pool … and the kids are having a good time,” said Tejada.

Schaller explains the dome comes with its own weather monitoring station to assure the pressurized bubble, which holds 1.5 pounds per square inch of air pressure more than the outside atmosphere, remains stable.

When wind speeds increase to a point that they might jostle the dome, the automatic atmosphere control increases air pressure to stabilize the bubble.

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And sensors along the dome’s top also register any buildup of snow or ice and the computerized environmental system will then modulate the internal air pressure slightly up and down to break up and push off any icy crust.

“We’ve had a great response to the indoor dome so far and it’s allowed us to double the amount of water we offer to our members, community and schools (area swim teams),” Schaller said.

“It’s allowed us to offer a variety of more aquatic services to our members and the community.”