Adam Baumgartner, 11, left, and his brother Evan Baumgartner, 8, like to swim in the indoor pool at the home of grandparents Bev and Mike Conklin.
The Conklins live in a house divided.
The doormat proclaims this truth: it's bisected, with maize and blue on one half, scarlet and gray on the other. Pennants of the two kingdoms hang high, and the one most frequently maligned is red with a gray "O."
But nothing brings family together like piles of food and a warm pool, especially when it's within sight of a 50-inch TV screen.
Saturday, Mike and Bev Conklin will play host to friends and family for aqua therapy and potluck during the Ohio State- Michigan football game. It will be the inaugural OSU-UM game-day fest in the 24-by-48-foot addition they built on to their modest ranch home off Centennial Road in Sylvania Township.
"Family's very important to us," said Mrs. Conklin, noting that Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve gatherings are held at their home, as well as birthday parties for grandkids and nieces. The dining area is the attached garage that seats 24 and has a 20-foot-long counter for smorgasbords.
"And the boys have always been close with us," she said. Wearing UM duds are grandsons Adam and Evan Baumgartner, 11 and 8, respectively, who splash and zip down the water slide while she (in a Michigan shirt) and her husband of 42 years (wearing OSU) talk pool side. Adam remembers swimming last winter with snow falling outside.
Water in the 14-by-32-foot pool is warmed by sun in summer (2,400 feet of tubing is attached to the home's attic roof in two zones). For warm water in winter, Mr. Conklin ran coils through the wood-burning furnace that heats the entire house.
Bev Conklin roots for Michigan while husband Mike Conklin, who designed and built their home addition himself, roots for Ohio State.
Most nights will find the couple in the pool. It's been especially helpful for Mrs. Conklin who was paralyzed twice 13 years ago and spent the better part of a year in a wheelchair. "I'm always kicking my legs," she said. She has fibromyalgia and came down with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune-system disorder.
Light and airy, the huge room is surrounded on three sides by 11 standard (six-foot) sliding glass doors that allow excellent cross-ventilation on mild days. Two more provide entry to the living room and a bedroom. The blue and the red flags hang at the 13-foot center peak, from which the ceiling slopes down to nine feet. Just outside the room is a wide patio, 48 feet long with a burn pit and tables and chairs.
The pool was a consolation for selling their Vineyard Lake cottage near Brooklyn, Mich., in 2009.
"I said if we're going to sell the cottage I want an in-ground pool," Mrs. Conklin said. "And Mike said he was going to have an in-ground, indoor pool," she said. "We both like to swim. And the boys love swimming."
Construction began that summer and on Thanksgiving they were in the pool.
First, they removed the deck at the back of the house. Mr. Conklin took his hand-drawn blueprints to a pool store, which he hired to dig the 3-to-5-foot-deep pool, kept shallow for all-ages volleyball games. The excavated dirt was distributed around the back of the house to raise the ground level, eliminating two of the four steps from house to ground.
The solar system, located inside the locker room, heats the indoor pool water at the Conklins' Sylvania Township home.
A galvanized-steel pool frame was set onto the sculpted earth, over which a thin layer of foam insulation was added, and on top, a vinyl liner.
Next, the plumbing was installed, and then Mr. Conklin built a 6-foot-by-12-foot "Locker Room" to hold the pump, filter, and dehumidifier, as well as balls, nets, floaties, clean towels, and swim suits in several sizes.
The footers were dug and poured, as was the cement floor around the pool. Just inside the room's perimeter is a two-inch wide gutter with a vinyl cover for drainage.
"I had a lot of sleepless nights thinking of how I was going to do things," said Mr. Conklin, 62. He retired 10 years ago after 33 years at Jeep doing tool and gage inspection, and still works part -time doing odd jobs and driving a mobile sweeper/snow plow for a local firm.
After he built the two end walls, he had the 48-foot-long roof trusses set.
The ceiling required electrical wiring, lights, and fans, as well as three layers: insulation, a four-mill plastic vapor seal, and a ceiling of vinyl soffit material. To accomplish this, he built a rolling scaffolding that bridged the pool: Its platform was big enough to stand a ladder on in order to reach the peak.
To prevent fog on the trapezoidal windows near the peak and the 13 sets of glass doors, Mr. Conklin installed a 12-inch duct system near the exterior walls and attached it to a dehumidifier.
And to avoid Chlorine Eau de Parfum, they use salt to keep water clean; it was more expensive initially but cheaper in the long run.
Interior walls had to be moisture resistant, so they layered insulation, four-mill plastic (for a vapor barrier), non-molding drywall, and finally, drivit (an outdoor stucco-like product).
They moved their old wooden-framed living room furniture out here; Mrs. Conklin made it water resistant by removing slip covers, sliding heavy-duty garbage bags over the cushions, and putting the covers back on. She volunteers daily at Evergreen Elementary School near Metamora, Ohio, where Adam and Evan attend.
Michigan and Ohio State flags greet guests to Mike and Bev Conklin's home.
Mr. Conklin figured the project's cost, about $50,000, would have doubled had they added labor. His brother, Bob Conklin, helped him a great deal.
Mrs. Conklin considered several decors, including Hawaiian and a mural of their Michigan cottage, but chose the house-divided theme. She grew up with Michigan loyalties and has a cousin who coached under Bo Schembechler. Mr. Conklin grew up rooting for OSU and has relatives who are grads.
The room's long interior wall holds memorabilia of each school, including large photos of the massive Ann Arbor and Columbus stadiums.
There is, however, one item that all can agree on. It looks like an inner tube and its white letters read "No skinny dippin' alone."
Contact Tahree Lane at email@example.com or at 419-724-6075.