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June 13, 2014 09:55 PM

Indoor Pool Pioneer

The town of Luverne, Minnesota has been riding the wave of indoor pool popularity long before the city of Sioux Falls looked into building one. The Luverne Community Pool was built way back in 1978 and renovated in 1992. Last year, crews installed a new roof over the pool. The building features an Olympic-size swimming pool, a wading pool and a fitness center. Luverne has been ahead of its time as a pool pioneer.

Swimming has been a year-round pool pastime for decades in Luverne.

"Six days a week, I swim Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and I work in the workout facility on Monday, Wednesday and Friday," Jerry Jensen of Luverne said.

Regulars like Jerry Jensen have been coming to the Luverne Community Pool since the very early days.

"It was a novelty, it also looks very different than it does now, it's been improved dramatically with the tiles.  Back then, it was an aluminum-based pool.  But it was wonderful, it was a great thing to have," Jensen said.

Luverne's pool went from a late-seventies novelty to a 21st century necessity.

"As a quality of life issue, it's very good for the community. We keep hours here that pretty much anybody can come here," Luverne City Administrator John Call said.

Swimming inside provides a high-degree of certainty during summer stretches of uncertain conditions outside.

"We don't have to worry about the weather, the kids can always have swimming lessons. When I was growing up, our pool was outside and a lot of times swimming lessons were cancelled so it's nice to know that swimming lessons will be everyday day at the indoor pool," Angie Janiszeski said.

The indoor pool has been such a success, in part, because there are so few swimming options in all of Rock County.

"Rock County doesn't have a lake. The only county in Minnesota that doesn't have a lake and so we are the only pool in the area and we're indoor, so we're open 360 days of the year,"  Luverne Community Pool Manager Sam Honerman.

But being open 12 months of the year leads to unavoidable wear-and-tear on the facility.

"It's a caustic atmosphere for not only the paint, the metal and all the different construction items you have because of the humidity in the air, it's just more caustic than just a normal indoor room," Call said.

Last year crews installed a new roof over the pool at a cost of $540,000. In 2007, a $400,000 project replaced the air system that pumps humidity out of the pool. Officials say the upgrades are a worthwhile investment since they can be spread out through an entire year, and not during a three-month outdoor season.

"The colder and cloudier it is, the busier we are. Obviously, kids want to be warm when they swim and this atmosphere is indicative of that," Honerman said.

"When it's really hot outside, it's nice to be able to go to an outdoor pool, but it's nice to be able to utilize this facility all year long," Janiszeski said.

Swimmers from neighboring towns also use the pool. Some of them come from South Dakota. But officials do not expect an indoor aquatics center in Sioux Falls to siphon swimmers from Luverne.

"Brandon people. Pipestone, I suppose. You could call it a 20-25 mile radius, maybe Rock Rapids. But not a lot from Sioux Falls," Call said.

The Luverne pool has built a reliable base of customers through its decades of operation. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesotans are drawn to the water, even in a county of zero lakes.

The Luverne Community Pool averages about 80,000 visits a year to both the pool and the fitness center. 40 percent of the facility's operating expenses are paid through user fees, the rest comes from a subsidy from the city.

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