More than the construction of a new indoor swimming pool as part of an expansion of the USD Wellness Center lies in the list of future improvements planned for the University of South Dakota.

The new swimming pool will also include an obstacle course that can be lowered into the pool for use by university athletic swimmers and members of the community who want a bit of an extra challenge while taking a dip in the water.

University of South Dakota President Sheila Gestring announced the plans for the Wellness Center expansion during her State of the University address held Sept. 23 in Aalfs Auditorium on the USD campus.

“I am incredibly excited to share new information about the upcoming Wellness Center expansion,” she said. “We hope to start construction this summer (summer of 2022) and complete the project by summer 2024.

“This $25 million project will add an estimated 45,800 gross square feet to the facility and will house a new indoor 50-meter competition pool with seating for 400,” Gestring said.

Several other components of the expansion, she said, will include:

• A 40-foot by 25-foot wellness pool

• Wet classroom

• Hot tub that accommodates 25 users

• Steam room

• Athletic locker rooms

• Expanded wellness locker rooms

• Meet management rooms

• Coaches’ offices

• Lifeguard rooms

“One of the most exciting features of the expansion will be the addition of ‘NinjaCross,’ a fully customizable obstacle course that can be raised or lowered from the ceiling in under 60 seconds,” the university president said. “This obstacle course will create three-dimensional challenges for swimmers and exercisers of all ages and any fitness level.”

Gestring played a short video clip produced by NinjaCross. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas and according to its website, its systems are “an attraction that will take the fitness and competition experience to a new level. NinjaCross™ was created to enable users at all fitness levels to progress in a safe and supportive environment; and to challenge athletic competitors in an exciting spectator environment.”

According to the website, NinjaCross™ has built over 1,500 recreation, fitness & aquatics projects over 25 years with the goal of helping facility owners draw wide user groups to their facility, create new revenue streams with creative programming and boost down time throughout the week.

For indoor facilities, the NinjaCross™ Structural Truss is mounted directly to the facility’s existing ceiling space, securing the obstacle lanes which lower into position for use.

“I hope you all are excited about what that will bring for opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and community with that Wellness Center expansion,” Gestring said. “It would be pretty incredible for our students, I think. It also brings a different opportunity for our Vermillion community for, perhaps, hosting some meets during the summer months, particularly when we are a little less busy here on campus with our pool.”

Ribbon cutting for the $15 million, 61,000 square foot Wellness Center was held in February 2011 and it had already turned into a center of activity in the community at that time, with Vermillion townsfolk and university students utilizing the facility as warmly dressed construction personnel worked up a sweat finishing the final touches to the building.

Located directly north of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts building, the Wellness Center is the campus hub of recreation at USD with personal training and group fitness opportunities, intramural sports and a climbing wall that stands 38-feet tall, features 4,300 hold combinations and nine rope stations.

In addition, the Wellness Center features two racquetball courts, multiple recreation courts for basketball and volleyball, group fitness studios for aerobics, Pilates and yoga, a three-lane walking/jogging track, locker rooms; and state-of-the-art workout equipment, including exercise bicycles, elliptical machines and a large weight room filled with treadmills and strength training equipment.

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