Adult swim

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

With its 226-foot water slide, splash pool and two diving boards, the Albert Lea Family Aquatic Center is an obvious summertime hangout for kids and teenagers. But adults experience the pool a little differently.

“It’s a place for moms to talk while the kids go play,” Saundra Finseth said Tuesday as she sat in the shade with some friends.

Groups of mothers — and a few fathers — sat in clumps around the edges of the pools and water slide. Many were chatting, some were reading and most mothers were soaking up the sun.

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“When the kids are old enough to swim, it’s really a down time,” Finseth said, adding she often wants her kids to swim longer so she can catch up with her friends and fellow mothers.

Many mothers plan and coordinate to bring kids to the pool on the same day as their friends, said Finseth’s friend Gayle Brownlow.

“It’s a time for friends to meet, catch up,” Brownlow said.

“I like it on a hot day,” Finseth said. “It’s cool. What else can you do on a smoking hot day?”

Finseth said sometimes she will go in the pool with her kids, especially if there aren’t any friends around. And if her husband is at the pool, she said, he is in the water splashing away with the kids.

The city pool is always busy on a warm summer day.

“There’s never enough room on a nice day,” said Barb Miller, who brought her grandkids Tuesday.

Carol Thompson said she brings her kids “just to cool off in the hot weather and enjoy the sun.”

Plenty of other parents — mainly mothers, only a few fathers could be found — were sitting in the warm sun Tuesday, clad in bathing suits and soaking up the sun. As the mothers read, texted or tanned they were also keeping an eye on their children. Not too many adults could be found poolside that were without children.

Grandparents — again, mostly grandmothers — also bring their grandchildren to cool off in the pool on a warm, summer day.

“I just watch, watch, watch, watch, watch,” said Miller. “I’ve got five.”

Michele Nelson said she, too, attends the city pool to watch her kids, but with different circumstances. Two of her daughters are lifeguards at the pool, and Nelson said she spends time with them on their breaks and brings them snacks.

Michele said the pool is relaxing and mesmerizing. She loves to read poolside, she said, and sometimes slip into the water to cool off.

Her daughter Alyssa said 10 percent or less of the daily pool population is made up of adults and most are with children. Not too many adults come to the pool just to hang out during the day, she said.

Before the pool opens to the public in the morning and again after evening swimming lessons, a water aerobics class is taught by Annie Olson. Adults taking this class — again, mostly women — said they enjoy the time away from kids and husbands.

“It’s nice to have it just adults,” said Liz Peterson, a night water aerobics attendee. “It’s really relaxing and peaceful at night.”

Amy Larson and Nancy Heskett drive to the Albert Lea pool from Glenville to take the class and have some time of their own.

“It’s nice that there’s no kids,” Larson said.

But still, adults find ways to enjoy the city pool, whether its with kids or without. The pool will always be a summertime staple.

“We’re lucky Albert Lea built something like this,” Michele said.

Albert Lea Family Aquatic Center

– Open noon to 7 p.m. until the end of August

– Children 2 and under cost $1 each

– Children aged 3 to 17 cost $3.25 each for daily admission

– People 18 and older cost $3.50 each for daily admission

– Book of 30 admissions is $67.50 plus $4.73 tax

– Pool is handicap-accessible.

– Aquatic Center is equipped with a family bath house, shade structures and lifeguards on duty.

– The main pool ranges in depth from 3 1/2 feet to 13 feet with two 1-meter diving boards.

– Pool guidelines available at