Newly-opened Prentis Plunge sees high attendance
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Newly-opened Prentis Plunge sees high attendance

The new community-named pool, Prentis Plunge, opened with a splash on June 3 after months of construction.

The pool’s renovation was part of a larger plan to revamp Prentis Park, said James Goblirsch, Vermillion’s director of parks and recreation.

“That was the jewel and the centerpiece of the project and it’s been fabulous ever since,” Goblirsch said. “It’s a great park. It’s so heavily used by the public, by university students to the kids to the elders, to everyone. I just thought, let’s really make this the centerpiece of the community and park system here.”

Updates to the pool include more usable swimming water space, a zero depth, or beach front, entry area, more shade and concessions, a lazy river, new slides and family changing rooms.

Goblirsch said community members and students have been taking advantage of the pool.

USD offered a free swim last Saturday, which 228 USD students took advantage of. Three sororities have set up rentals of the party shelters and a few USD student-athletes took advantage of the pool over the summer.

“I think it’s been a plus for USD,” Goblirsch said. “It’s a recruiting tool for their athletes. Typically the athletes have to stay here during the summer, they also like to have something to do in the summer.”

There are 26 USD students currently working at the pool, Goblirsch said.

USD junior Maria Lewis, a lifeguard at the pool, said she thinks Prentis Plunge is going to enhance the community.

“It’s just a cool deal that Vermillion, a small town, has a cool, brand new pool,” she said. “I wouldn’t change anything about the updates.”

USD junior Rachel Beckman, another lifeguard at Prentis Plunge, she said the staff saw a variety of people this summer.

“We have some water walkers that get their exercises, kids, lap swimmers and swimming lessons,” Beckman said.

By the numbers

Goblirsch said the former pool was 60 years old and leaked 11 to 15 gallons of water per day.

“The pool outlived its lifespan,” he said.

The cost of updates to the pool came in around $6 million, bringing the entire park renovation to a grand total of about $6.5 million. Other park renovations included upgrades to infrastructure, removal of some vegetation and updates to the baseball field.

Goblirsch said the construction came in a little bit higher than expected for the pool, but he’s happy with it.

“It’s very interactive,” Goblirsch said. “It’s very well-designed in the sense that everything gets used. It’s night and day compared to the old pool.”

The updates have brought in more people and revenue, Goblirsch said

“On a busy, hot day, we’d get 125 to maybe 150 users at the old pool, and now we’re getting 500 to 800 people,” he said.

Goblirsch said they sold about 1,700 individual passes during the summer.

“The daily admissions have been very good,” Goblirsch said. “It’s $5, if you’re seven to 107, it’s $5 a day. There’s been plenty of days where we’ve been over $1,000 in daily admissions. So we’ve been very happy with the revenue.”

Out of all the numbers from this summer, Goblirsch said his favorite is zero.

“That’s the number of deaths and drownings we have,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re going to have close to 50,000 people come through the doors, and we’ve had zero drownings. In fact, we haven’t had an ambulance call this year… Ultimately, that’s our goal — that everyone walks in with a smile on their face and walks out the same doors with a smile on their face.”

Upcoming renovations to the park include new sidewalks, basketball courts, new parking lots, the return of the disc golf course and making the park more ADA accessible.

Due to the new updates, the city chose to keep the pool open until Sept. 4.

“We’re very happy,” Goblirsch said. “We aren’t done yet, but we’re getting there.”