Let the Sun Shine In
The YMCA of the Suncoast: Citrus Memorial Health Foundation YMCA in Lecanto, Fla.
By Dave Ramont
The YMCA of the Suncoast in Florida has both indoor and outdoor pools. And when its leaders were hatching plans for their new Citrus Memorial Health Foundation YMCA in Citrus County, they were considering their options when it came time to plan for their swimming pool.
"We knew we either had to build indoor in Citrus County, or face that we would have long stretches during the winter months where no swimming could take place," said Tim Ackerman, vice president of properties for YMCA of the Suncoast. "We have also learned that our membership and users prefer outdoor swimming when the weather is warm."
So they came up with a best-of-both-worlds compromise, building an outdoor pool with a retractable enclosure system provided by DynaDome. "Finding the retractable option really put us in position to deliver outdoor swimming when weather allows and indoor when it does not," Ackerman said.
The eight-lane, 25-yard pool is used for everything from competitive swim meets to swimming lessons to lap swimming. The retractable enclosure is closed when it's cold outside, and also for rain events when it's warm outside, according to Ackerman. "We close the structure when it rains to alleviate the ripples on the water that could hinder a lifeguard's view of the pool bottom. We have also found that the ability to open or close the structure partially allows us the ability to shade those who are sensitive to the sun and give full sun to those who prefer it."
Ackerman explained that in cold months, the organization's Hernando County branch used an air-inflated dome, but found that setup and takedown aspects were challenging, and indoor air quality was also an issue. He said that by contrast, the DynaDome structure has windows throughout, allowing for air circulation even when the enclosure is closed. "We don't air-condition the space, we just open it slightly, to allow air to circulate if needed," he said. "Another advantage of this system is the ability to close the structure when temps drop below the mid-70s and re-open it on demand if the temperature rises back up during the day. This happens quite often. Those warm-weather days and chilly nights in fall and spring are easy to address with the opening and closing of the structure."
When it is cold outside, Ackerman said that it stays warm in the enclosure. "The pool is heated with geothermal heat pumps, and no other heating is required when the structure is closed," he said. "During our cold periods, members can walk directly from the locker rooms into the covered area without ever going outside."
As with most any project, challenges arose during construction, with the installation contractor having little experience with this type of structure. "The tolerances for construction of the slab and frame system are very small and require strict attention to detail during the construction process," Ackerman said, adding that DynaDome also provided consultation and limited supervision as the project commenced.
When the time came for finalizing the erection of the system and the installation of the operating controls, they took direct control. "In the end, the DynaDome ownership team and reps jumped in and took responsibility for the final construction and operation of the system and made sure the Y received what it was paying for," Ackerman said, adding that the company now provides turnkey installation that will alleviate similar issues in with future construction projects.
Launched in 1985, Dyna Technology Inc. is still designing and manufacturing DynaDome systems from Northwest Indiana. The structures are used for all types of residential, industrial, commercial and military applications across the United States and Canada. The enclosures contain no materials that might be affected by pool chemicals or condensation.
So, just how easy are the systems to operate? According to Ackerman, it's very simple. "Turn a key and press a button. Open to closed or closed to open in less than two minutes," he said.
The YMCA of the Suncoast opened its new pool in autumn 2016, and Ackerman said that it's been very well-received. "The total cost of the system and installation was much less than a full indoor structure that allows no flexibility," he said. "We've found that having flexibility to offer indoor or outdoor at any time is a true benefit for both the Y and our end users."
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