Sunday, November 15, 2009

...coming to you from INSIDE the Aquatic Center!!!

View toward the big pool

Constructing outside- those are the metal studs to be placed in interior walls

View of warm pool - for lessons/lap swimming

A hallway...

Another picture of the big pool

The warm pool...again

another hallway - I think between the community rooms and playground

Metal stud walls

The outside - stucco and colors to coordinate with BSC decor

again with the orange stucco!!!!

Part of the parking lot and exterior

It's getting on the Aquatic Center is in full swing - once the windows are in, they don't have to bow to Mother Nature anymore!!!! Last winter being HORRIFIC, and after such a rainy summer, it's been hard to get concrete poured and the streets around the aquatic center completed, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel!!!

Here's the scoop:
Outside- the access road on Canary Avenue is done - all asphalted, nice and new!!! The parking lot - essentially to be shared with the Community Bowl - making it AWESOME - has asphalt too! Landscaping and all that nonessential jazz will be completed later.

Inside - concrete for the pool and deck have been poured, the metal studs are in place, most electricity/plumbing work is done, and drywall is being applied in places already!!!

All this in preparation for (cross your fingers) the first swim meet January 2nd - they'll really have to hustle along to hit that date, but mid-January will be another big meet and an opportunity to show off our great new facility!!!

Grand Opening activities (party time!!!) should be happening sometime in February - watch for a fun weekend of swimming, facility tours, wellness center activities, and all sorts of great family stuff to kick off the "new season" of aquatics in Bismarck!!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The first tenant...

The first tenant of the new Bismarck Aquatic Center is .... (drum roll please) A NEW SWIM TEAM!!! The Bismarck Aquatics and Fitness organization has announced the official formation of "Aquastorm" - check out

The "Aquastorm" team is slated to consist of a youth swim team, Masters (that's old folk like myself) swimming, and a diving team. As new coach Loic Joseph alluded to, and I concur, there is a huge lack of participation in the sport of swimming in Bismarck partly due to the paucity of swimming lesson programs and advertisement to local youth.

I was a swimmer (for another ND city) as a youth, and we always wondered why Bismarck wasn't more of a powerhouse in swimming, considering the population is many times larger than other towns with competitive teams. There simply has not been a facility large enough to house the aquatic needs of Bismarck, and though the YMCA exists and houses their own swim team, there is just not enough room and pool time available to devote to developing a base of young swimmers. Back in the day (my day, that is) our team advertised once a year to all the local schools for swim team, we were managed and supported by the team parents, and we had a lesson "feeder" program, largely taught by older swim team members - somebody for the little ones to look up to!!!

That is why I am so excited for the future of Bismarck swimming - I mean, obviously not everybody wants to be on the swim team, but there has been no place to even take swimming lessons if you are not a Y member!!!

Just a quick rundown of the awesome things a new team and facility will bring:

- Swimming lessons available to the general public - with no "membership" necessary

- Swim instructors teaching not only water safety and basic swim skills, but working on strokes necessary to succeed on the swim team

- A feeder program for the local high school swim teams - future ND state champs, anyone?

- Diving team - the only non-school diving program I've seen in the state!

- Swim programs for school kids - possible aquatic programming for the high schools and older elementary kids

- Lap swimming - with this much pool space, there will finally be room here (and more room will thus be available at the Y) for fitness swimming

- Masters swimming - for us older folk (over 18) to have the opportunity for training and competition in swimming!

- BIG MEETS - I'm talking more than 500 swimmers and their families to some of these meets (i.e. Zones)

- Water polo and other aquatic opportunities

Of course the rest of the facility will be cool, too, but aquatic fitness is great for a lifetime!!!

The new team was mentioned last night and today in the local news:
New swim club in town (Bismarck Tribune)
and check out the Aquatic club on Facebook -

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's been a long, long time...

The Pool has been poured - it's finally taking shape!!!!

Since welcoming New Baby to our family, life has been extremely busy - but I haven't strayed far from the Aquatic Center project.

Newest news of note: the fundraising campaign for the aquatic centers "inner workings" like bleachers, timing system, starting blocks and such - is well underway, and reportedly about halfway to the $1 million goal!!!

There has been much talk in the Bismarck Tribune and on their blogger websites about the "underhandedness" of the park district in raising funds - such as not releasing information to the public, etc... but if one were to actually go back and search the park district website and such, one would discover that all this "new information" and "additional funds sought" were in the original plan for building the aquatic center. It should be no surprise, for example, that the aquatic community of Bismarck is lobbying for their share of the hospitality tax to help pay for bleachers - perhaps the general public doesn't realize just how many swim meets are held here, and just how much money swimmers/parents spend on hotels and restaurants in Bismarck - the major contributors to the hospitality tax. It should follow, then, that a portion of this tax money should be made available to the Aquatic Center for putting in bleachers - if there are no bleachers, there are no spectators, and NOBODY TO SPEND MONEY IN BISMARCK!!!! Amazing how it all works out....

More to follow...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Finally in the news

A media Open House was held Thursday, May 14th at the Aquatic Center, led by Dennis Kemmesat with the Streamline Foundation. Local news outlets took a peek inside, hardhats and all!

See what the Bismarck tribune has to say here:

and KFYR has the news and a video here:


Sunday, May 3, 2009

$?$?$?$?$ What is the local economic impact of ONE BIG MEET?

Okay, big question in the community - what exactly will this big Aquatics/Wellness Center do for Bismarck? What's in it for us?

Besides the obvious - additional aquatics space, indoor playground, multiple swimming lesson/team opportunities, etc.... there is the opportunity for economic stimulus. With the amount of pool space, there lies the opportunity for BIG SWIM MEETS. Okay, swimming may not sound like the most exciting of sports, but for families involved in competitive swimming, there is nothing like the electricity of watching a superclose race in a big Zone or National meet (or remember the US relays last year at the Olympics???).

Slated already on the schedule for the new Aquatics center are local swim club meets and potential high school championship meets, which bring in local talent, and fill local hotel rooms and restaurants - not to mention the mall! However, larger meets such as Zone meets will bring in swimmers from across a multi-state region for nearly an entire week! "Zones" is like a mini-Nationals for age-group swimmers - The country is divided into a number of zones, each of which host their own meet each summer for the super-fast swimmers with qualifying times. North Dakota is in the Central Zone (see , which consists of 15 states - generally divided into 2 different zone meets. Bottom line: one zone meet would bring zealous swimmers and parents from 8 different states to Bismarck!

Just how much money would one zone meet bring to the Bismarck economy? Okay, this is not scientific in the least, since the latest info I could find online about how much to expect per swimmer was dated in 1992... So, I figured all this based on what I would do as a swimmer's parent and family - like shopping, eating out, eating concessions, and hotel rooms.

Here goes: figured as if Bismarck were hosting the 2009 zone meet (which we are NOT - it's in Grand Forks). They expect approximately 800 swimmers for a 5-day meet. I divided it out as such:

Hotels: median hotel room cost (based on for nights of Aug 5-10) in Bismarck was right at $100/night. Multiply by 5 nights x 800 swimmers: $400,000

Meals out: figuring a 3-person familiy for each of the 800 swimmers (may be more like 4-5 spectators per swimmer) at $10 per person per meal (some will cost more, other families will likely be frugal and grocery shop - this is the average of that!) - figuring they will eat out 2x per day (3rd meal and snacks probably at concession stand)
total: $10/person/meal x 2 meals/day = $60/family/day x 800 swimmers x 5 days: $240,000

Souvenirs (t-shirts/towels, etc...): Figuring at $12 per t-shirt (2009 state ND swim meet price) at 1200 t-shirts (figuring half the parents will buy one) and probably $20 on caps/towels per swimmer
total: $12 x 1200 (t-shirts) + $20 x 800 = $30,400

Concessions: proceeds of which will go to host swim team/facility, prices based on 2009 state swim meet concession prices:
Taco in a bag $3.50, hot dog $1.50, pizza slice $2.50 - so average lunch $2.50 per person
Drinks: 2 per day at $1.50/beverage
Muffins/snacks: 2 per day at $0.50 each
Per person total: $2.50 + $3 + $1: $6.50 x (800 swimmers x 3 people/swimmer) x 5 days = $78,000

Programs: $5 each x 800 = $4000

Shopping locally: Figure $200 per swimmer/family of local shopping over the week (more for the unfortunate few who forget their swimsuit or other necessities!)
total: $200 x 800 swimmers: $160,000

Gas: Figure 2 tanks (one for arrival, one for departure) per family at $35/tank
total: $70 x 800 = $56,000

Not to mention pool rental fees, lifeguard/official fees, sponsorship for meet, airline fees (for some), entertainment (i.e. movies), and patronizing other local venues!!!

My total for 800 swimmers in Bismarck for one single 5-day meet is (drum roll please!!!)...
$968,400 or pretty darn close to a million bucks!!!

With this facility, the probability exists for at LEAST one meet such as this per year, with the possibility more like 2 or 3 per year. Think Zones, paralympic events (which include Canada - we're the perfect spot!), olympic training events (yes, they try to farm those out since Colorado Springs can only host so many people!), large diving events, ETC....

Question answered: is this good for Bismarck??? YES.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Walls are Going Up!!!

This post is a tad outdated, as I have info from this week that the last wall to enclose the building is near completion!!!! It looks like a building now!!!

These pictures are of the North wall, taken about a week ago. Following completion of the walls, the roofing work will begin - funny thing about that....they need A MONTH WITHOUT WIND in April/May in North Dakota to complete the roofing. HA! Better be making a pretty good deal with Mother Nature for that to happen!!!

I foresee a few windy days over the next month - so in about 6 weeks the HVAC (ventilation and ductwork) should begin - which is estimated at about 2 weeks worth of work. Following that, the actually digging of the pool (yay pool builders!) is slated to begin. I, for one, am really excited to see the size of this thing as it takes shape!

Next post: the financial impact of competitive swimming (not to mention diving and multi-sport events this facility will make possible - think olympic proportions :) ) - Just how much money will one great big meet bring to the Bismarck economy???

Friday, April 10, 2009

Got sand????

So, if a city were to have upwards of a million sandbags, and those sandbags were ready to come down, and needed a place to empty them...and a Park District construction project needed a LOT of sand for foundation and fill work - what is the logical connection???

DUMP THE SANDBAGS AT THE AQUATIC CENTER BUILDING SITE!!!! (What a great idea - I wonder who came up with that?!?!)

Yes, there is an official dumpsite for sand, and garbage/recycle bin for the bags located just east of the Aquatic Center building site - to find it, refer to my first post, or head South down Schafer St., take a right into the parking lot after the High Prairie Arts and Science Center - the "SAND HERE" sign is in the NW corner of the parking lot.

See for the official story from Mayor Warford and the Bismarck city folk.

Next post: the walls are going up!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back 2 Business...or Let's Get Physical!!!

Well, the flood danger in Bismarck has passed, and it is looking less and less like we will have flood of Fargo refugees - so let's get back to business: The Aquatics/Wellness Center!!!

Question of the week (from weeks ago) was: What exactly will be IN this building we're building?

Answer #3: A Wellness Center!
Upstairs, just above the lobby area, will be over 6000 sq feet of exercise room!!! Included will be cardio and weight equipment, as well as an Aerobics/Dance studio. The plan is to have top-of-the-line cardio equipment (TBD as to whether they will have TV's/iPod docks), free weights and machines. The Aerobics studio will host group exercise classes, and a little birdie tells me they are looking into some family activities for the space - such as Mommy and Me classes.

Sound exciting? I think so! Just another option to add to the array of workout opportunities in town - but rather conveniently located so mom and dad can raise their heart rates while the kiddos have swimming lessons or practice with the swim team!

As an integral part of the BSC campus as well, this will also fill a void for BSC students who have long been wanting a wellness center on campus. So, yes, this will be a shared facility, but one that benefits both our current community as well as the future of Bismarck (i.e. BSC college-age students, studying hard to potentially become productive Bismarck citizens!).

I, for one, am excited about the possibility of Mommy/Me classes - but also for the many health-enhancing activities there will be available in the new facility. Healthy community residents are an integral part of the community's future: healthy citizens = happy citizens = more productive community!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Enough talk about the aquatics - we're UNDERWATER!!!

This blog will take a short break while the citizens of Bismarck and Mandan along the Missouri River battle flooding caused in part by an ice jam - can you believe they're trying to blow it up with explosives!!! As bad as the flooding is, that part is kind of cool! They should get the Navy SEALS here to go underwater in their scuba gear and place explosives - it would be great training!!! But perhaps scuba divers don't move so well in the ice....

To get updates on the flood and volunteer efforts, visit: - actually helping connect volunteers to people who need them
or the local TV stations (KFYR, KXMB)
School cancellations and updates are on radio stations and websites (i.e.

To all of you out there sandbagging or evacuating: GODSPEED.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Indoor Playground!!

Snow, snow and more snow...winter's "outdoor playground" a town where the temperature has been subzero for months and the snow is packed so high we're at risk of our first flood in decades - how many indoor playgrounds do we have? Counting Snoopers, fast food joints and the Gateway Mall: about 3. (unless something is hiding in Bismarck that I don't know about...) Embarrassing, isn't it?

So, the Park Board is building it's very first indoor playground inside the Aquatic Center!!! As a mom of little kids, this makes me VERY EXCITED (hear me cheer!)!!! Finally, a place to go during that too-short-but-too-long hour while Big Kid is at after-school activities, or I find myself with a restless Tiny Girl and Little Guy during yet another snowy day...

So, what exactly are the specifics? Well, that's debatable - a final design is not set in stone, but I can tell you what I know:

1. About 1500 square feet of playspace with a ramp leading down leaving about 10 feet in height - high enough for 6-7 foot slides

2. Seating for moms and dads, as well as cubbies to stash the kids' stuff

3. Located directly behind the reception desk, adjacent to the Community Rooms - so birthday parties may be an option during off-peak times

4. A preliminary plan shows a movable wall revealing windows to the warm pool - this should allow parents to sit in the Community Room area and have eyes on both the lesson pool and the playground simultaneously - NICE!

5. The same plan also shows a Family Restroom - the door is just up the ramp from the play area - a potential nursing area may be located here (yay for forward thinking park planners!)

6. Big Kids and Little Kids should be happy with the final design - it is not yet available, but park planners are trying their best to provide a "big kid" bouldering section in addition to little kiddo slides and climbing equipment

7. The park system is NOT planning "gerbil cages" such as climbing tubes and places inaccessible to parents - making the area easy to keep clean and handicapped accessible - also eliminating the need for me to climb through 50 feet of tubes to catch Little Guy when he doesn't want to come out (yes, this has happened!!!)

The design and theme are still under debate, but some fun possibilities (at least I think they'd be fun) would be a theme such as "Under the Sea" or "Mr Bubble's Tub" (see Why "The Bubble?" post below) or even an island theme - kind of an escape from the winter blahs. What do you think???

To see the playground's location, view the layout of the aquatic center - visit and scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the picture of the Aquatic Center and visit the 2nd page. Keep in mind the area between the community rooms and playground is NOT THE FINAL plan - park planners are still coming up with the best situation for the use of the space for both parents and kids. Go Park Board!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So what's inside?

Picture of a diving platform from the U of MN pool - highest is 10 meters, the new Aquatic Center can accomodate a 7.5 meter platform (second from the top)
Inside of the U of MN pool - the new Aquatic center will be very similar to this - ceilings not quite as high, and spectators just on one side, but distance and position of pools pretty close to what we will have here!
to link to the U of M pool site:

Question of the day: what exactly is inside this new Aquatics/Wellness center?
Okay, make that Question of the week. Today: the pool area itself.
I've been to a few swim meets in my day - my siblings and I swam competitively for years, and even went to a few Zone and larger meets, so I have a pretty good idea of what makes a good competitition pool. I also have kids - so definitely know what makes a good lesson pool!

#1 - 50 meter pool with diving well - bulkheads at each end slide together to convert to 2x25 yard pools
50 meters is the distance USS swimmers use in the summertime, and is the official "Olympic size" pool. Zone swim meets are summertime meets, so will use the 50 meter pool (bringing 800 age-group swimmers and their families to our city!)
25 yards is the distance for winter USS meets, and both girls and boys high school meets. They also run short course nationals and regional meets in the 25 yard pools. This makes it possible for Bismarck to host dozens of state-caliber meets yearly while the rest of the pool area is still available for lap swimming and lessons.
(The pool is also 25 yards wide so a 3rd configuration could be 3 x 8 lane 25 yard pools or 2 x 8 lanes and an open diving well)

#2 - 25 yard x 6 lane warm pool
This is a primarily recreational (fun and laps) and lesson pool - great for little kids who would get too chilly in the colder, larger pool! This pool is also for aquasize, as it is not nearly as deep as a competition pool. With 50 meters of pool space in the larger pool, this will likely be open to the public most of the time, unless it's full of families and kids for swimming lessons. Warm pools are fabulous for people with arthritis as well as a nice place to get some exercise when you are pregnant (been there, done that!).
(just a plug: I'm also hoping someday they will put a small modular waterslide in there - think the small ones at the Elks pool)

#3 - Diving well - appears to be part of the 50 meter pool
The plan is to have a 7.5 meter diving platform at the highest point of this pool, necessitating a VERY deep pool (think 16-20 feet) - think Olympic diving you've seen on TV. Not as high as the highest 10 meter platform, but high enough to host regional youth diving meets. Depth of the pool lends itself to scuba diving classes!

Above are pictures of the U of M pool - representative of the larger pools used for swim teams and recreation as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why "The Bubble?"

Why am I calling the building and blog "The Bubble?" you ask...

Because Mr. Bubble is from Bismarck, ND!!!!

Back in the 1960's, Harold Schafer, well-known businessman, philanthropist, and father to future ND governor Ed Schafer, invented Mr. Bubble - a favorite bubble bath of generations of families! My kiddos (especially Tiny Girl) love the picture of the bubble dude on the front of the Mr. Bubble container - it's cute and instantly recognizable!

I think nicknaming the building "The Bubble" is a great tribute to a great man and to the future of ND aquatics!!! Imagine: The Bismarck Bubbles Swim Team!!! (okay, maybe not quite what they are going for in a name, but cute nonetheless) They ought to at least put a huge Mr. Bubble logo on a wall somewhere in tribute to a North Dakota legacy!

The Bismarck Tribune had a great article in its Progress edition 2 weekends ago, but the internet link is nonfunctional. You can, however, read about Mr. Bubble here and Harold Schafer here as not only creator of Mr. Bubble and Gold Seal floor wax, but also a great supporter of the historic projects in Medora.

Happy reading! (didn't think you'd get a history lesson today, did ya?)

Check out this cute Mr. Bubble commercial from back in the day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Now that's a big crane!

Girders look to be 20-30 feet tall! (just a guess...)
Facing east from Community bowl parking

From east - big crane!

From just behind High Prairie Center

Greetings! Drove by the aquatic center site today again to take some pictures! The wind was blowing pretty briskly, but the sight of the crane was too much for Little Guy to bear - he wanted to climb on it! No such luck, buddy!
Enjoy these pictures from the construction site! Most of them are from the north on Canary Avenue facing south - just SW of the High Prairie Arts and Science Center (

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Under construction!!!

Took the little kids (heretofore known as little guy and tiny girl) on a drive past the pool construction site yesterday - Little Guy LOVED looking at the enormous cranes. "There's dudes way up there, mom!" he said! Amazing how long a preschooler can watch construction equipment without getting bored. He thought it was just like Lofty from Bob the Builder ;)

Tiny Girl liked the big hole they have dug - she also liked the snow around - I can't imagine doing that kind of construction in this kind of snow! Kudos to the construction dudes!

If you have little construction lovers yourself, drive up and check it out! If you know where the Community Bowl is by BSC, just drive near that and it's just to the east of the bowl. If you don't know where that is (I didn't!) here's a better idea:

Head toward BSC from Divide Avenue on Schafer St. Take a right on Canary Ave and head back behind the High Prairie Arts and Science building (great stuff there, too!). Just over the rise you'll see enormous metal girders and the BIGGEST CRANES YOU'LL EVER SEE! That would be it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Here I am in a city that snows 6 months out of the year (or more - we're at 70+ inches so far this year) that doesn't have a whole lot of "indoor" stuff for little kids to do. Well, folks, that is about to change!!! An indoor playground is planned as part of a much larger Parks and Rec project here in Bismarck!!!

There has been lots of talk about creating a ginormous Aquatics and Wellness Center for years, and it has been at the top of the lists of things the citizens of Bismarck want - the park board is finally putting this desire into action!

From perusing the park board website ( I gather these to be the high points of the new facility:
- 50 meter (Olympic sized) pool with room at one end for a diving well (I'm thinking platform diving!)
- 25 yard separate, warmer pool for lessons and leisure - may someday have a waterslide, but not yet :(
- easy viewing of both pools from the deck and TONS of seating above
- family changing rooms (yay!) and neato womens/mens locker rooms
- an INDOOR PLAYGROUND directly adjacent to the leisure/lesson pool - looks like parents can simultaneously watch a kid at swimming lessons (through the window) and watch little ones on the playground by sitting in the raised portion just at the top of the ramp into the playground (super-convenient!)
- lobby/lounge near the playground - I'm thinking mini coffee shop type
- Upstairs, a 6000 sq ft wellness center (work out while your kid swims lessons!)
- Aerobics/dance studio upstairs (maybe they'll have mommy/baby classes someday!)
- Concessions and store upstairs (swimwear, perhaps?) - hope they'll have WiFi!

Seriously, this sounds like a great building, and could really bring some big events to Bismarck. OK, swimming doesn't sound like the most exciting sport, but from having attended a Zone meet in the past, all they'd have to do is get one Zone (or bigger!) swim meet here to bring in, literally, hundreds of swimmers and their families for a week - who, by the way, need a place to stay, restaurants to eat in, and will probably do some shopping! Hello, local economy stimulus!

But, nearest and dearest to my heart, of course, is the indoor playground - I've tried out a few in the Cities area, and it's a great place to run off steam and get the kids some exercise during the winter months (which can get seriously loooooong!).