March 17, 2010
March 17, 2010
IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Iowa’s April 17 Alumni meet marks the end of collegiate swimming in the historic Fieldhouse Pool, but as the 2010 competition comes to a close, a new state of the art facility is being prepared that has the potential to change the culture of swimming in the state of Iowa.
The new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, located on the southwest corner of Burlington and South Madison St., has many features which will benefit the swimming and diving programs. The new pool is an Olympic length 50 meters as opposed to the current facility’s 50 yard pool, which was considered state of the art in 1927. There are two bulkheads that are movable to allow for multiple configurations. This means the pool can accommodate the international standard of two 25-meter courses, or the NCAA standard, two 25-yard courses.
“In addition to meeting our basic needs for practice,” says Head Swimming Coach Marc Long, “it provides a lot of advantages. There’s a lot of natural light which is important to us. The lanes are wider so that should eliminate the risk of swimmers running into each other, which has been a problem in the past.”
The pool will have controllable water temperature, allowing the diving team to use warmer water while the swimming team can use cooler water. State-of-the-art starting platforms will be installed as well. The diving team will be able to take advantage of a sparger system, which basically creates a pillow of air on the pool surface. This makes it easier, and safer, for divers to practice new dives without fear of hurting themselves.
The new pool will have off-deck seating for up to 1,200 fans, as well as on-deck space to accommodate up to 1,000 competitors. The off-deck seating is also expandable for up to 1,600 if the site hosts larger meets. Long is excited about the possibilities of hosting larger events.
“Hopefully we can start hosting Midwest Regional and National events, both for recruiting purposes and for general University recruitment. These are major events that usually happen in the University’s downtime in the summer. It’s a highly visible building in a great location. It’s right next to the downtown hotels so it will be easier to accommodate crowds for multi-day events.”
The benefits of the pool aren’t limited to the swimming and diving programs, however. As a recreational pool, intramural programs and university students will be able to take advantage of everything it has to offer. A video board, which will help judge diving events, also doubles as a screen to show everything from movies to Hawkeye football games. There will be a climbing wall installed next to the pool, allowing climbers to jump back into the pool after they’re done. For those looking to relax, there will be a lazy river, and for those seeking excitement, there will be a spinning vortex pool.
Long made sure to emphasize that the new facility is not comprehensive, but rather complimentary to the Fieldhouse. In fact some of the old pool’s “atmosphere” was intended to carry over to the new facility, especially with the off-deck seating so close to the pool and the abundance of natural light.
“For as many bad qualities that the old pool has, it still has a certain feel to it which is very important. Our swimmers still enjoy practicing at the Fieldhouse Pool because of the atmosphere and the history. I know for me, when I swam here in the 80’s, being a butterfly swimmer and swimming in the pool where the butterfly stroke was created was always special.”
So as alumni and current student-athletes reminisce about the good, bad, and ugly memories of the Fieldhouse Pool, they can also look forward to witnessing the beginning of a new thread in the history of Iowa swimming and diving.