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Several ambitious wave pool projects emerge in the American South

Texas has two for surfing and even Dollywood, that wonderfully camp Appalachian theme park has a wave pool. Maybe the South’s unique blend of hospitality and make-it-happen moxie is the perfect recipe to get a wave pool done. Enter GroundSwell, an ambitious multi-city plan that will feature mix use facilities centered around surfing. Locations underway include Charlotte North Carolina, Rock Hill South Carolina and Charleston South Carolina.

“The overall plan is to use surfing as an anchor for a commercial mixed-use development,” said Michael Schumpert, Director of GroundSwell. “There are other mixed-use centers being developed with a surf pool as an anchor, but GroundSwell is different in that it won’t be a tourist trap, but rather a community.”

It’s a much-debated topic whether wave pools will solely become a playground for the rich with exclusive facilities. Some call this the country clubbing of surfing as many will be built at the center of golf resorts. Michael Schumpert is aware of this.

“It definitely won’t have a stuffy golf country club atmosphere” he added. “And it won’t have the frenzied pace of a water park. It will favor a sports facility and training atmosphere but will have significant influences on the idea of sports and surfing as a means towards personal achievement. Health and holistic wellness will have a significant presence.”

While the project plans to utilize Wavegarden’s Cove technology and its custom-fit modular capabilities, they have not signed on the dotted line with the Basque company. Following the lead of upcoming developments in Norway and Switzerland, Schumpert admitted the park is open to other technologies besides Wavegarden.

Many projects are following this path at the moment for two reasons. One, it takes a while to secure a Wavegarden Cove and two, because new technologies are quickly emerging. Any one of these could be the next big thing.

In our interview, Schumpert repeatedly mentioned community use and steps the project would take to be inclusive.

“We also aim to foster surf programs and outreach that will nurture connectedness in the neighborhood and area. This plays into the vibe. When people come to GroundSwell they will feel welcome and at home.”


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