The city hopes its new surfing pool will draw more people to the Aquatic Center.
The surf's up in Edina on Saturday, along with hopes that the new FlowRider attraction will boost use of the city's Aquatic Center.
The surfing pool, which is the second FlowRider in the state and the first to be outside, opens for the summer season on Saturday along with the rest of the center's water attractions.
As of last week, about 200 season passes for the FlowRider had been sold. The city is calling its surfing pool "The Lost Wave."
"We do feel like there's going to be a lot of interest in it," said Susan Faus, senior recreation manager for the city. "As people see it in action and watch other riders, I think they'll get excited about it."
The city-owned Aquatic Center, which is expected to be self-supporting, spent a little over $1 million on the surfing pool. That money came from center proceeds that had been set aside over a number of years. The addition of the pool is an attempt to jump-start interest in the center, which saw use peak in 1999. A drop in season ticket sales from a high of about 14,700 people to around 9,200 in recent years was attributed partly to the city's aging population.
But another issue was that when kids hit 11 or 12, they began losing interest in the swimming pool, pirate-themed water slide and cable ride. Teenagers wanted more excitement.
That's where the FlowRider comes in. The pool, with a padded bottom and walls, sends a three-inch-deep sheet of water shooting uphill, creating a perpetual wave. Users can body board or surf on the jetted water.
"We are really hoping that it attracts an older age group, 11- and 12-year-olds up to 18-year-old kids," Faus said. "But anyone who's willing to take the chance can try it, as long as they don't have any [of the posted] health issues."
People with neck or back problems or heart issues are advised not to try the pool. While there are no age restrictions, there are height restrictions: body boarders must be at least 42 inches tall; surfers at least 52 inches tall. Two lifeguards will be on duty at the FlowRider at all times, and they received training from the company that makes the surfing pool, Faus said. There are benches for people who just want to watch the action.
Faus said she is not worried about overcrowding as people wait to use the surfing pool. Beginning riders usually fall off their boards in just a few seconds; she said expert riders will be limited to rides of a minute or two to make sure lines don't grow too long.
As of late last week, only a couple of the installers had tried the pool out. Faus said the city was waiting until the final inspection is done this week before anyone else body boards or surfs.
She's interested in trying it, but so are a lot of others.
"We have a lot of people who want to be the first rider," she said.
The only other FlowRider in Minnesota is at the Water Park of America in Bloomington. Most of the FlowRiders in the U.S. are at resorts and water parks, but a few other city aquatic centers operate them, too.
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 Twitter: @smetan