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Cool at the pool
New features added to Wetlands Aquatic Facility
new slt pool mail photo alternate crop
Youths enjoy the new climbing wall next to the big swimming pool at the Wetlands at Great Bend Aquatic Facility. Only one climber at a time is allowed on the wall. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Dads swim free

In honor of Fathers Day, all fathers and grandfathers can swim free this Sunday at the Wetlands at Great Bend Aquatic Facility, 2303 Main St. Dads must be accompanied by a child with a paid admission.









Diving boards are out, slides are 10 minutes ago, and climbing walls are the next big thing at Great Bend’s Wetlands Aquatic Facility.

A climbing wall at the deep end of the big pool is the newest feature at the Wetlands, Aquatics Director Paige Achatz said. Kids can climb about 8 feet above the water. The wall is made up of plastic panels that have pegs and indentations for climbing. It is three panels high and two panels wide; the panels on the left are easier to navigate, while those on the right present a more challenging climb, Achatz said.

The municipal swimming pool was transformed into an aquatic center with multiple water features back in 2005, said Terry Hoff at the City Office. It continues to be a popular summer attraction.

"A weekend or two ago, we had a huge crowd on a Sunday," Hoff said. Attendance has been strong since opening for the summer on Memorial Weekend. "The hot weather has really contributed to that."

The city continues to consider upgrades to keep the attraction exciting. A few years ago it added a pair of kid-sized slingshots that face each other. A bucket of 10 water balloons for this Water Wars battle field can be purchased for $1.

Slides have replaced diving boards at most community swimming pools, and the Wetlands has eight slides between its deep pool and a separate shallow pool. However, Hoff said the tube slides at one end of the deep pool are "not being used that much," and may be replaced with something else next summer.

The city has already ordered replacements for another feature, the floats in the deep pool. There is a sea serpent and several green discs or "lily pads," each large enough to hold a swimmer. The floats are popular, but, "they are showing wear and tear," Hoff said. The new pieces are supposedly on their way and should arrive soon. "We ordered a sea turtle, a crab and a clown fish."

Achatz oversees a 36-person staff, most of whom are lifeguards. And even though the facility been open less than a month, "we’ve had 15 saves already," she said Tuesday. The swimmers who need to be assisted are often those who use one of the slides and find themselves in deeper water than expected.

For those who want to learn to swim or to swim better, the Great Bend Recreation Commission began offering American Red Cross certified swim lessons on Monday. The next sessions start June 27 and the final session starts July 11. For information on GBRC programs and scholarships, contact the Recreation Commission, 1214 Stone St. The telephone number is 793-3755 ext. 2.

The Wetlands Aquatic Facility is open from 12:30-5:30 p.m. daily, weather permitting, with Family Swim Nights on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m.

Admission is $3 for youth 3-17 years old and $4 for adults 18 and older. Discount passes for 15 admissions are $40. Family Swim Night admission is $2 per person. The facility can also be reserved for private parties. For more information call the facility, 792-1516.