The design of a world-class diving venue requires understanding diving facility guidelines, diving competition rules, and the intricate interactions between divers and their environment.
First and foremost, a dive facility must meet the minimum standards of the competition taking place. For example, the overhead clearance above the diving boards and platforms must be at least that specified in the NFHS, NCAA, USA Swimming & Diving, and FINA diving regulations. This is typically five meters (16 feet, 5 inches) above the highest diving board or platform and is in place so that divers do not hit the ceiling structure. This is just one of numerous design considerations for an elite diving venue.
So, what additional attributes make a world-class diving facility? Here’s a top-10 list:
- SEPARATE DIVE POOL - This allows for swimming and diving training to take place simultaneously, as well as accommodate world-class diving events.
- 10-METER PLATFORM TOWER AND SPRINGBOARDS -Platform diving competition takes place at 10 meters, though 1-, 3-, 5-, and 7.5-meter heights are also typically provided for training and warm-ups.
- DARK-COLORED BOTTOM - It is recommended by USA Diving that the bottom of the dive pool be a dark color — typically dark blue or black — and the walls white.
- SPARGERS AND WATER-SURFACE AGITATORS - Spargers (air-bubbling systems) are utilized for diving practice. Water-surface agitators are used during competition to break up the reflection of the ceiling or sky.
- SPA AND/OR SHOWERS - A desired feature at all major diving facilities, a spa allows divers to relax their muscles before or after dives.
- LARGE STAIR SYSTEM - All world-class diving pools have a large stair system for easy egress out of the pool after a dive.
- DIVING HARNESS/SPOTTING RIG - In elite facilities, there may be two diving harnesses and spotting rigs — mounted over one springboard and one platform.
- DRY-LAND TRAINING ROOM - For high-level diving, a separate dry-land training room should be provided and equipped with dry-land springboards and pits, a trampoline and digital video recording capability.
- SPECTATOR SEATING AND JUDGE VIEWING - Some meets are held using only temporary seating, while large world-class diving events have recently been staged with temporary pools in front of 10,000 or more seats.
- LIGHTING AND TV CONSIDERATIONS - During major competitions, lighting levels should be close to 200 foot-candles. Practice lighting can be less, but still needs to be in the 75-to-100-foot-candle range.
Examples of World-Class Diving Venues
The following examples show three world-class diving venues. The University of Tennessee is an indoor facility. The St. Peters Rec-Plex is also an indoor facility, but a municipal diving center. Stanford University is an outdoor diving venue.
The University of Tennessee’s Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center is a complex capable of hosting NCAA Championships, the Southeastern Conference, and national and international events. The center offers seating for 1,800 spectators with a spacious deck area to comfortably accommodate up to 2,000 additional individuals during meets. This 72,000 sq. ft. state-of-the art swimming and diving facility is highlighted by an eight lane 50-meter by 25-yard competition pool and a separate diving pool with 1, 3, 5, 7½, and 10-meter platform diving.
The City of St. Peters, Missouri, Rec-Plex is a world-class aquatic complex constructed for its nationally recognized aquatics program and to host special aquatic events. The Rec-Plex hosted the Olympic Festival in 1994 and the Olympic Diving Trials in 2004. This state-of-the-art natatorium includes a diving tower with 1, 3, 5, 7½, and 10-meter platform diving and a whirlpool spa.
As one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, Stanford University is not only recognized for academic excellence but also outstanding programs in athletics and aquatics. Since 1920, the university has collected countless national awards and trophies, turning out some of history’s finest Olympic aquatic athletes. In 2001, Stanford built a world-class venue for the school’s highly-acclaimed aquatics program. The high-tech facility consists of four separate outdoor pools including:
- 8,200 sq. ft. stretch 25-meter competition pool with diving boards and bulkhead
- 13,850 sq. ft. 50-meter by 25-meter by 3-meter training pool with bulkhead
- 4,600 sq. ft. diving pool with a 3-centerline tower and four springboards
- 50-meter recreation pool
- Two whirlpool spas (72 sq. ft. and 130.5 sq. ft.)