Athena Sports & Fitness Pool

The pool at Athena Sport & Fitness sits nearly empty after a pump failure caused the water to pour into the weight room. Managers have decided to close the pool citing repair costs.


A pump failure has forced Athena Sport & Fitness to close its pool, despite pleas from longtime water aerobics participants to find donors to save the facility.

The pump failed overnight Sept. 29-30, dumping nearly all the water from the 8,000-cubic foot pool into the weight room. Staff discovered the mess when they arrived to open the center that morning.

“If we had been here, we could have potentially avoided more damage,” said Alex Blake, director of construction operations for Ironmen Properties, which took ownership of the center a week before the mishap.

The failure destroyed the pool’s electronics, pump, chemical filter and other mechanics and caused further damage to the deck’s substructure, which the company already expected would need major repairs in the coming years. The pool was installed in 2000 as crews developed the former Crawfordsville High School building into the Athena Center.

Repair estimates came in at about $200,000, including the cost of filling the substructure with concrete and moving the mechanical room to the surface level.

Athena’s for-profit status limited the funding options, Blake said. The company said there wasn’t enough time to wait for grants. About 100 members gathered for a meeting last week in the gymnasium, where swimmers indicated there were community patrons who could donate to the pool.

“We were open to considering options. There were none that came forward that would… address all of the issues,” Blake said.

When discussions with another business didn’t pan out and a financial analysis showed the project wasn’t feasible, the owners decided to end the water aerobics and swimming programs.

Donna Keefer began taking aerobics seven years ago after a knee surgery. 

“It’s a heart-breaker for me because that’s my routine,” Keefer said before the decision to close the pool was reached.

Standing on the pool deck, Blake opened the door to the mechanical area, pointing to a dehumidifier soaking up moisture from the room. About six inches of water remained in the pool.

Plans call for the pool area to be converted into studio space for yoga and other low-intensity activities for seniors. The weight room will also be renovated.

“The last thing we want to communicate is that we do not want to serve a certain demographic of the population,” Blake said. “Many of our water aerobics, people who participate are part of the older generation.”

Crawfordsville Aquatics Center said some Athena members have begun attending its aerobics classes and that staff would accommodate the patrons as long as necessary.

Donnie Wright and his wife were among the clients looking for another place to swim. He said the exercise helped him recover from three back surgeries and a hip replacement. 

“It kept us mobile,” he said.

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