Feature Article - May 2008
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Always in Season

Transforming Single-Season Swimming Into Year-Round Fun

By Kate Bongiovanni

Olympic Effort

Waterparks aren't the only facilities installing transparent roofs allowing sunlight to penetrate. As China builds a series of new structures to house the sports to be played at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the swimming facility brings pool enclosures to a new level in terms of beauty and conservation. Manufactured by the same company that made the roof for the Kalahari Resort expansion in Sandusky, Ohio, the National Swimming Center in Beijing uses the ETFE system as a skin around the structure. According to the company's Web site, this building is the largest ETFE structure in the world and utilizes more than 1 million square feet of ETFE. The good news is that the ETFE foil helps the complex act as a greenhouse to garner the sun's rays to help heat the pool water and the building itself, cutting down on energy costs.

Retractable Roofing Systems

Although located in San Diego, which has a relatively warm climate and ideal weather conditions year-round, the Mission Valley YMCA still felt the need to enclose its pool. To combat cooler winter and nighttime temperatures, the Y installed a retractable roof enclosure.

Siddhartha Vivek, director of marketing and public relations with the Mission Valley YMCA, explained that the facility has indoor pools with retractable roofs at both its Friars Road and Toby Wells locations; Friars Road also has an outdoor pool.

But don't think of this retractable roof as a roof found at a sports stadium. These structures utilize a different design, allowing only a portion of the roof to open to the outdoors. "They are actually interlocking segments that slide away from each other, opening up a section of the roof," Vivek explained. "So a substantial piece of the roof is retractable, not the whole thing."

This allows the Y to keep three pools in operation for a variety of activities year-round and enhances its programming. "Each pool is kept a different temperature for a variety of programming," Vivek said. "Together, the three pools allow us to provide our members the most complete aquatics center in San Diego."

At the Friars Road facility the indoor pool is kept at 90 degrees, facilitating ideal learning conditions, and also perfect for aquatic exercise classes. Its outdoor pool maintains an 80-degree temperature for swim team programs and lap swimming. The McGrath Family Pool at the Toby Wells location keeps the water temperature at 84 degrees for patrons to play on its waterslide, participate in lessons or lap swimming, or attend exercise classes.