Every time a new pool is built or there is a high profile event, someone always seems to ask, what makes a fast pool? It is our job in the industry of building pools to make these Facilities the BEST they can be. Swimmers on the block should only be considering their efforts towards training and planning for a race to make their best times, not whether or not the designers have used the best and most appropriate materials in building or refurbishing the pool. Here are a few factors that to consider when building or upgrading your facility.
Water Depth: Over the past few years pools have been getting deeper and deeper. When a swimmer dives in the water this creates waves not just on top of the water but under the water too. Think of an echo in a small room, the sound waves reverberate off each wall; well in a pool the waves (or currents) can reverberate off the floor and affect the swimmer as the race progresses. These currents carry through the entire race. The more shallow the water is, the greater the effect these currents have on the swimmers. When talking about short distances like the 100 meter freestyle, the difference between 1st and 8th place could be 1/10th of a second.
Temperature: When building a pool one of the biggest topic s of discussion is the temperature of the water. Competitive and Lap swimmers want it cooler, divers want it warmer and therapy wants it even warmer. There is no perfect situation when trying to make everyone happy in one pool. It is important to have a primary focus for the pool so that conditions can be optimal for the primary use. For racers, cold pools can shock the system and tense up your muscles, but hot pools create the body to overheat which they makes the athlete extent more energy, resulting is sluggish swims. The perfect temperature (for racers) ranges between 78-80 degrees. It can be challenging to maintain these temperatures when you are dealing with all 4 types of energy; radiation, evaporation, convection and conduction.
Lane Width- In a standard swimming pool the lane width is typically 7 foot wide. In high competition pools the lane width is 8 and sometimes 9 foot wide, for higher end facilities. The large lanes are intended to give each lane equal conditions and minimize the effect of the currents created by other lanes. A wider the lane leads to less wave movement from one lane into another.
Lane Line Design- Lanes line technology has changed progressed a lot over the years. The first style of lane lines were really just floating ropes, as seen in this photo from the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Today, the lane lines are designed to suppress wave turbulence and now flank every lane. The competition improvement has led to the introduction of a 10 lane pool that adds capacity to practices but creates 8 equal competition lanes.
Gutter Design: In an effort to maintain a consistent pool current throughout the race, competition pools have also lowered their gutters to absorb the waves at the edge of the pool, rather than bouncing them back towards center. A thoughtful gutter design is a very important aspect to a fast pool.
With water entries, flip turns and strokes all impacting the water’s surface, the number of currents in a pool are significant. All technological improvements that can be made to minimize these contribute to maximizing the speeds obtained in these pools and make them the best, fastest pools.