Top 10 Must-Visit Sites for a Swim Meet in the United States

  75 Braden Keith | May 28th, 2013 | Featured, Lifestyle, National, News

Note: Belmont probably would have been on this list, were it not for being recently shut down for a complete remodel. We’ll have to wait until the new pool is open to see if it can recapture the feel of the old natatorium.

10. Student Rec Center Natatorium, College Station, Texas – The Texas A&M University pool has been host to a few major meets, including both the men’s and women’s events during the 2009 suited years. The Aggies always put on a good show, though, including appearances by their pep band, and enough goodies to get the students to turn out pretty well for just about any meet (especially for the big rivalry meets against Texas.) Besides NCAA Championships, it’s one of only five American pools to have hosted a stop on the FINA World Series Circuit. There are few things in swimming that’s more chilling than members of the Corps of Cadets bugling the National Anthem from the diving platforms.

Texas A&M buglers perch atop the diving platforms in one of the most spine-chilling spectacles in swimming. (Photo: Janna Schulze)

Texas A&M buglers perch atop the diving platforms in one of the most spine-chilling spectacles in swimming. (Photo: Janna Schulze)

Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia

Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia

9. Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia –  The Georgia women have won 82 straight meets at home at the Gabrielsen Natatorium, and they routinely pack 500 fans in for regular-season dual meets. The heated rivalries of the SEC spill over into swimming, and huge skylights on the ceiling result in great lighting.

8. Evanston Township/New Trier High School, Illinois – These two pools are relatively ancient – each is over 60 years old. They are shallow, and lack the state-of-the-art bells and whistles that create the modern “fast pool”. Evanston isn’t even an 8-lane pool – it can only fit a final of 6. Yet, somehow, these two pools that have hosted the State Championship meet for the last 50 years or so still produce National Records. With fans surrounding the pools on three sides, and an overflow crowd almost on top of the pool, the intensity of the atmosphere is completely unmatched.

The Evanston Township Pool in suburban Chicago may be only 6 lanes, but the atmosphere is unparalleled in high school swimming. (Photo: Evanston Township)

The Evanston Township Pool in suburban Chicago may be only 6 lanes, but the atmosphere is unparalleled in high school swimming. (Photo: Evanston Township)

7. Avery Aquatics Center, Palo Alto, California –  The home of Stanford’s aquatic teams is nice, very nice. Some consider it the best outdoor swimming arena in the nation for swimming fans to enjoy race action. Just look at stands towering over either side of the pool. Who wouldn’t want to race there before a packed house, and Stanford does fills the seats.

Avery Aquatics Center, Palo Alto, California

Avery Aquatics Center, Palo Alto, California

With four NCAA Team Titles and a long history of producing 50 NCAA champions, swimming is a top tier sport at the University. Avery Aquatic Center hosted the 2011 Junior and Senior Nationals, and it’s played hosted to US Olympic Teams as a training camp, 2004 and 2008. The facility is spectacular, with a glut of pools, and one designed specifically to create a high-intensity collegiate atmosphere.

ISHOF Pool

ISHOF Pool

6. International Swimming Hall of Fame Pool, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – Location, location, location. That’s the mantra in real estate. What the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Pool lacks in design is offset by its vacation destination appeal.  Ft. Lauderdale had been the YMCA Spring Nationals go-to location for decades (until the event moved to Greensboro, NC). Families, by the thousands, made it the vacation-meet for fun in the sun and fast swimming. Ft. Lauderdale has hosted countless USA Swimming Nationals and Junior National Championships over the years. Ample hotel space within walking distance should be noted, and yes, we can’t forget the beach, a mere 30 yards away. ISHOF HQ has always been a draw for hardcore swimmers and families (though the HQ may be moving). Much credit goes to the tireless work of ISHOF CEO Bruce Wigo, the professor of swimming. On any random day, you could walk through the ISHOF doors and be entranced by his entertaining tales of swimming intrigue and greatness.

Georgia Tech Aquatics Center, Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Tech Aquatics Center, Atlanta, Georgia

5. Georgia Tech Aquatics Center, Atlanta, Georgia – Georgia Tech hit the jackpot when Atlanta got the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The result: the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center. Since the Atlanta Games this facility has hosted ACC Champs, NCAA Zone Diving Champs, and, perhaps, the best made-for-TV event in swimming, the 2011 Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool.

4. University Aquatics Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota – This is a personal favorite, as the pool has a great fieldhouse-style architecture. It’s big, but it’s not so huge, and fans are close enough to the pool, as to capture the noise from the fans that line both sides of the pool. The NCAA loves this pool to; despite the chance for chilly temperatures in March, the pool will host the 2014 NCAA Championships for the women, which will be its 21st hosted NCAA Championship meet. The pool got a mostly cosmetic renovation this past year, including a brand new scoreboard, and some new overhead skylights to give it even more natural lighting.

University Aquatics Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

University Aquatics Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

3. CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska (featured photo, credit: Tim Binning, theswimpictures) – The CenturyLink Center didn’t have all of the bells and whistles that many of their competitors to host the 2016 Olympic Trials did. What they did provide, however, was a huge basketball-style arena that could be filled to the brim for finals sessions. One need not look much further than the spectacular venue shots done by Mike Lewis at this year’s Trials to see what’s so amazing about this place (see the headline shot.) The flash and the flair designed to host rock concerts and high level college basketball instead turns its spotlight to swimming, flames and all.

2. Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center, Austin, Texas – If you swim, you have probably swum at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center in Austin, Texas.  Grand Prix competitions, Nationals, Junior Nationals, Olympic Trials, NCAA Championships, they’ve all been hosted in Austin. Since 1978 this 50 meter temple to swimming has been the go-to for elites and rising stars. History? The Texas Swim Center has it in spades, but in the interest of keeping this brief, we’ll drop one moment in time, March 30th, 2001, when a 15 year old Michael Phelps broke his first world record in the 200 meters butterfly at the World Championship Trials, 1:54.92.

Texas Swim Center

Texas Swim Center

 

1. IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, Indiana – The biggest permanent swimming facility in the United States is perhaps home to the bulk of its history in the last 30 years. This pool on the campus of IUPUI is not just A natatorium. It is THE natatorium. All fast racers come to Indy. Since opening to 1982, the pool according to its official website has seen 103 American Records and 15 World Records. It has hosted 13 men’s NCAA Championship meets, 13 women’s NCAA Championship meets, and through an agreement with the NCAA will see several more over the next decade for all divisions. They hosted 8 of the first historic 14 women’s NCAA Championship meets after full inclusion in the 80’s. The history here is just unreal – the pool designed to be a mecca of American swimming has done just that, hosting four Olympic Trials meets out of five between 1984 and 2000.

 

IUPUI Natatorium, Indianapolis, Indiana

IUPUI Natatorium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Comments

  1. Peter says:
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    Fun fact: The New Trier pool was originally a WPA project during the depression.

  2. Overrated says:
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    I know there is a lot of history at the iupui pool, but I thought it was a underwhelming experience when I swam there at NCAAs. It is so dark and depressing nothing really special about it. The crowd didnt really get into the meet at all. I don’t even think it is comparable to the Omaha venue from a swimmers perspective

    • DutchWomen says:
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      Unfortunately for whatever reason it doesn’t fill for NCAA’s…but Trials was electric back in the day, before we were spoiled with Omaha. Imagine it packed with 6,000 vs the 1,000 or so that were at NCAA’s, if that. Completely different atmosphere. Sad fact – just as many people watch the Indiana High School girls meet as men’s NCAA’s at the nat…. And….Vlad split 17.86 there, so that has to count for something.

      • WaveNation says:
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        Agreed, both the Girls & Boys Indiana State Championships had a much more intense feel this year.

  3. ML says:
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    Hey, I just swam in the #1 pool for my morning workout while in Indy on business! First time I have swum in that pool in almost 20 years, and not much has changed.

  4. PsychoDad says:
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    I know Braden wanted to put Texas Swim Center on the top, but did not want to be accused of a bias. There is no place like that anywhere. It is a magical place for simmers, for officials, for parents. You cannot throw a swim cap without hitting a gold medal Olympian when you go to a meet. Example, I took our son to a UT meet this year; Branden Hansen was doing commentary; Dave Walters was next to us and Dale Rodgers above us. I took him to meet all of them. On the way out we run into Ricky Berens. Our son was overwhelmed…He also swims best times at the UT center and he swims about 10 meets a year there. He knows you do not go into that building without giving your best – and show respect to banners and names on the wall.

    • completelyconquered says:
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      Why would it be bias if Braden put TSC at the top of the list? The guy went to Texas A&M.

  5. Kirk Nelson says:
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    One minor correction is that the pool in Indy is called the IU Natatorium now. Not sure when or why the IUPUI was dropped in favor of just IU, but anything official now refers to it as “IU Natatorium.”

  6. Sean Justice says:
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    If you haven’t ever been to Canton, Ohio where the Ohio State High School Championships are, it is a great venue. It gets loud and the fans are packed in. In the 90s, it had some outstanding swims!!

    If Braden had put Texas A&M at number 1, I would have to agree. it is a great place swim as long as it is regulation length :-P.

      • Sean Justice says:
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        Great videos!! I loved swimming there when the swimming was under one division….it sometimes took a junior national cut to make it back in finals!!

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        I’m a bit biased, but I can’t imagine how the atmosphere inside the C.T. Branin Natatorium for the Ohio High School State Championships can be topped anywhere in the USA. This is a great picture, but it only shows two of the three sides of fan seating:

        http://www.ohsaa.org/news/features/22409.htm

        Even crazier is the way officials hand out numbers at 7:30 a.m. for the general admission seating when the doors open at 9 a.m. The first 500 in line get a number letting them enter first, and so fans start lining up at before midnight. Last year our team’s parents showed up at 3:30 a.m. and we were already at No. 240. Craziness!

    • Mark Schilling says:
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      Here here! I swam at a few state champ meets there in the mid 90s and it was an amazing place! The pool itself wasn’t anything amazing but it was magically great place for meets. I swear that St. X would bring 500 students up to that meet! Crazy!

    • ChicagoSwimmingAlum says:
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      Just happened on this article by chance and, as a Chicago-area HS swimming alum 10+ years out, was really happy to see the Evanston inclusion & pic (recognized it by sight while scrolling pretty fast, even despite the wide-angle distortion). I try to stay away from these swimming sites to avoid the nostalgia trap as I’m now well out of swimming, but just can’t ignore the temptation to comment. I can’t tell if the author is from IL, but he seems not to be, so I’m all that much more impressed that it was singled out for HS, and so aptly described. I can’t help but comment that the wide-angle shot (obviously taken from an early individual prelim heat), while well-done, significantly understates the crowd’s size and level of engagement (not one person would be sitting if it were the medley relay final).

      For those from OH or anywhere else that might cry foul: I think the reason IL gets the nod, in addition to the nature of the venue(s), is because of how unique/extreme the focus is for the state’s system on HS over club swimming — there might be some other states that put them roughly on par or might even have a slightly bigger emphasis on HS, but in IL, clubs are basically a farm system and/or off-season ‘upkeep’ for the HS teams. [This might be more common knowledge now, but back when I got to the college level and went east, this is a conversation I probably had 100 times trying to explain to people that didn't get how it could even be possible that I swam for a no-name club & considered it irrelevant.] The longtime/’rotation’ powerhouses aren’t small, private / swimmer-magnet schools, but rather all [very] well-to-do 2k+ suburban public schools. And on top of that, this unusually-HS-centric system also happens to be unusually tilted towards heavy, heavy taper-oriented swimming in the Chicago area, particularly for the [winter] boys season — HS dual meets and even large invites for 3.5-4 months are all basically irrelevant / dressed-up practices (drag suits, no caps), with [almost] everybody focused on breaking down to nothing and then stuffing all their eggs in the single basket that is ‘State’. Even for D1 scholarship -caliber swimmers that are forced to think about Nationals/etc., it’s the unquestioned pinnacle of the annual calendar.

      So, yes, the author got it right in saying that the insanely high-pressure atmosphere coupled with the historic venues and incredibly raucous crowds makes it an unrivaled place to see a HS swimming meet twice a year. [I heavily preferred Evanston, all-around -- the article doesn't make it clear, but boys/girls split & alternate each year between Evanston/Trier.] I won’t get into extended detail about it, but suffice it to say that the attendance rituals/logistics/scale either match or one-up anything you all might’ve mentioned re: OH, with the only possible limitation being the size of the venues — they only fit about half the crowd the event could draw based purely on demand.

      Having grown up swimming in a nearby HS pool almost identical in makeup (but still worse), it’s funny to hear the author note the pool’s supposed ‘shortcomings’ and the disparity with performance. There are some pretty storied programs in the area built off facilities much worse than this kind of pool, but the talent that they’ve produced quickly renders any jabs or criticisms moot. I have no idea if they’ve since upgraded, but OPRF & Naperville North in the late 90’s are the first to come to mind (I want to say the ’96 or ’97 OPRF boys team might’ve been national champs… might be confusing it with ’99 or ’00 Evanston boys team, though).

      Before reading all the way through the comments, I was also surprised to not see Yale / the H-Y-P meet on there for the same reasoning/logic as IL HS State. Apparently it’s better-known than I thought, so I would mention that the only reason I know about it was because somebody once mentioned it to me during recruiting as an ‘sub-Evanston-like’ environment… True story. No offense to either the author or the armed services, but I still think that that should take precedence over bugles or a particular take on the national anthem.

    • PsychoDad says:
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      Related to Tyler Luebke?

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      Phil: Too bad the Univ. of Iowa Rec. Service Director and the Univ. of Iowa Aquatics Director play politics with the venue (and it’s access), had no problem violating USA-Swimming Code of Conduct rules in how they attacked my club when starting up their own, and are completely corrupt because other than some deck space issues and air quality problems (at large summer meets) it is a decent competition tank. I would place the UI pool on par with the pool @ Mizzou (less deck space / more seating at UI).

      I would add King County Aquatic Center (WA.) and take Evanston off this list.

  7. jman says:
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    you should do a feature on old-time pools of the past–top 10. I would assume Yale would be on there (maybe should have been on this list).

    • the beach says:
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      that would be a great idea. The old Beverly Hills High School pool–the one under the basketball court–would have to be on the list.

      • Lane Four says:
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        The old Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach/Belmont Shore has got to be included on that list. At one time they called it the “Taj Mahal” of American pools. Besides national championships and NCAAs, it hosted the OTs in 1968 and 1976 as well as many international meets for swimming and water polo.

        • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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          Lane Four – read the first paragraph. Would be mighty hard to go see a meet at Belmont given that they’re knocking it down, hence it’s exclusion from “must see”….

    • WWWT says:
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      I second the Yale pool suggestion. As a swimmer from Connecticut, I know firsthand that place has magic in the water. It’s an amazing facility, even if it is only a 6 lane, 25-yard pool.

    • Kirsten Fullerton says:
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      I also can’t figure out while Yale was left out. It’s pretty historic.

  8. BaldingEagle says:
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    I swam Eastern Zones in 1989 at Yale, and it was DEAFENING in there, and that was a USA meet. The H-Y-P meet there must be just unreal. I’m surprised anyone leaves there without permanent hearing loss.

    I wish I’d had a chance to see the Dallas Morning News meet at SMU back in the old SWC days: Texas, SMU, Houston… it must have been incredible.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      Almost had SMU and Yale on the list…but wanted to keep a “now” focus on it. Both are definitely on the “halls of echos” top 10…

  9. Richard Henderson says:
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    A nice list. I’ve been to all except Athens and the Illinois pools. For me it’s Austin, first, last and always, the TAJ MAHAL OF SWIMMING POOLS.

  10. DutchWomen says:
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    Hard to believe Texas built that pool in 1978. Few others have done it better since, and they’ve had almost 40 years to get it right.

  11. Scott Waterman says:
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    How about a list of the top ten most interesting / quirky pools? The old Spieker Aquatics center at Cal would have to make the list for its often cold weather despite being outside, as well as its old locker rooms. The Mt. Hood Acquatics center is beautiful too, although some very cold early summer meets have been held there. If we take it international, the pools in Monaco (both the indoor one as well as the marina-side outdoor one) should certainly be included.

    • newswim says:
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      Quirky????I’d put the “new” Dartmouth pool on the list…nothing like a pool where you get get a “bridge” and a tunnel…..
      Old time pool…..I also like CT Branin….once had a bunch of swimmers “complain” about the slow pool….brought them by to look at the record board and that pretty much changed their minds…..Joe “who”?

  12. Swimmer says:
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    Good list but from a swimmers perspective who has swam at all of the top 5 pools, nothing is comparable to the Omaha trials pool. The atmosphere for that meet and the arena made for an unforgettable experience. The only reason I can see it not being #1 is because it isn’t a permanent fixture

  13. SwimSam says:
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    Yup… love that Phelps first WR reference!

  14. Chris says:
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    All great facilities. Cleveland State could be included. The site of the first sub 20 second 50 free and it is still one of the fastest pools in Ohio.

  15. Kelly says:
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    It’s too bad the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Suburban Milwaukee isn’t on this list, That is an amazing place to swim. Hopefully they will get more meets and events larger then all the age group events there! Built in the 70’s, it’s hosted National Champs a long time ago.

    • Joel Lin says:
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      Ah, Brown Deer, the scene of Madame Butterfly’s 2:05 WR that stood for about two decades. I had heard the pool was scheduled to be razed?

  16. Joel Lin says:
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    My heart sinks to not see Santa Clara, Mission Viejo or Yale on the list…unquestionably the most iconic pools in the USA.

    • Lane Four says:
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      Great catch, Joel.

    • aswimfan says:
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      I’ve never been to any of those pools, but as an international swim fan who often watched swim meets in the US, I second your opinion especially on Santa Clara (George Haines International Swim center).

      It is surprising that Santa Clara does not make it top ten.

  17. Ashley Wozny says:
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    All of a sudden the pools I swim in are blatantly subpar and depressing.

  18. Bcc says:
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    Yale should be on this list without question. It’s like swimming in the Roman Colliseum. Iupui is beat. At one time it was legit but it looks old and unkept.

  19. Swim Coach Brandon says:
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    Thumbs up for Omaha with the 2012 Trials. First time I was there as a coach. Wow that was some event. I think about going back everyday at practice. Thumbs up as well for IUPUI. I was there for 2009 Nationals. Great event and wonderful pool.

  20. Fluidg says:
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    This list wasn’t written from a swimmer’s perspective. I’ve competed in eight of these venues, including the first meet ever held at IUPUI (plus Belmont and the old SMU pool). In my opinion, for the overall swimmer’s experience, nothing is even close to Omaha. Austin is my favorite pool and probably the fastest. IUPUI is big and relatively fast, but it’s slippery deck and sterile finishes knock if down a few notches. That said, both the IUPUI and Austin facilities were groundbreaking and each is aging remarkably well. The Olympic pool in Montreal justifies extending the boundary of the list to include all of North America.

  21. liquidassets says:
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    R.I.P. Belmont Plaza!! Lots of great meets there, many world, American records, CIF, Pac 10/Pac12, Olympic Trials, etc. Such a shame it flunked the earthquake test. Hope the new pool will be good….

    • Lane Four says:
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      Fingers crossed, Liquid. I literally live down the street from Belmont and see it every single day. So many memories starting back to 1968…..I hope Long Beach has its act together with this one.

  22. Grace says:
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    Is it possible to build a pool on top of an aquarium so that you could see fish/wildlife while swimming?

  23. Josh says:
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    The omission of the Santa Clara International Swim Center (now named the George F. Haines International Swim Center) renders this list irrelevant. In the 40+ year history of the Santa Clara International Meet alone, 23 World and 333 American records have been set.

    • aswimfan says:
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      I wouldn’t go as far calling the list irrelevant, but yes, I’m baffled that the George F. Haines International Swim Center does not make the list.

  24. Joel Lin says:
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    If there were a list of the most BEAUTIFUL swimming venues, then Los Banos del Mar pool in Santa Barbara cannot be beat. Swim to the sunrise over the mountains to the East while hearing the waves crash just yards away to the West. Heaven on Earth.

  25. PAC12BACKER says:
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    I’d like to see a top 10 list of worst pools. One of the worst offenders was University of Illinois. They don’t have a men’s team anymore, but it used to be in the Big 10 teams would avoid travelling there as much as possible.

    The facility at first glance looked decent, almost modern, with a nice warm-up pool. But the competititon pool was exceedingly slow. It was fairly deep in the middle but quickly ramped to shallow on both ends. This caused major wave refraction and severe turbulence with waves actually crashing over the deck, especially during butterfly and free sprints. Felt like a washing machine.

    • mcgillrocks says:
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      funny, i literally just swam there tonight. not a great pool but the only LC pool my team can get their hands on

      • Chupi says:
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        It may not compare to the other Big 10 pools but it’s
        pretty much the best we’ve got in central Illinois…it’s pretty
        sad really. Now it’s normal for Illinois to have its Age Group
        State and Senior State meets in other states (ex: Senior Champs
        were at Munster HS in Indiana this summer). Not many good options
        for LCM here :(

  26. Mike DeBoor says:
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    All great places to swim! However, Lakeside Swim Club in Louisville, Ky has to be on a number of lists. Founded in 1924 it has continued as an outstanding venue and has played host, since 1928, to the oldest continuously held meet in the country with the 85th Ohio Valley Championship Meet coming up this June… not to mention producing 10 USA Olympians over the years.

    • BaldingEagle says:
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      Coach Mike,
      You’re a great proponent of your pool, and you should be! I listed it in my top 10 list of pools in which I have competed, which includes Stanford, Texas, Indy, Texas A&M and Emory. When I was dating the woman who became my wife, her parents took me to Lakeside for a picnic. They’ve been members for over 40 years. We go back to Lakeside whenever we can. I love the quarry for outdoor swimming!

      Mary T, Rachel K, the Burckles, etc…

    • Ben G says:
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      Mike D to the rescue! Need to have the Lake on there, as it is the home to a club team that has put a swimmer on each of the last three Olympic Teams…gotta be something in the water.

    • Sean Justice says:
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      Hey Mike,

      I loved swimming at the OVC!! Great pool, actually the end lanes are probably the fastest. Only knock is the parking, unless you know a Lakeside swimmer that lives close!!

  27. SwimEMM says:
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    Mission Viejo is my all time favorite pool to compete at. I think I swam at my first SMOC when I was 14 and made it back every year until I stopped swimming. My other favorites were Weyerhaeuser in Federal Way, Santa Clara, and IU Natatorium.

  28. CoachGB says:
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    I know they are not the type pool for this list but have you ever seen the Hearst Castle outdoor and indoor pools, spectacular. There are so many that could go under different type lists. So many today aren’t aware of classic pools of the past which no longer exist like Flieshacher or Broad Ripple. If you are in Indy at World Trials you should go see Riviera club, 52-5300 N Illinois St. It is a classic in size and history. Yale is No. 1 in uniqueniess where when you stand on the block and it is a full house you look straight at a wall of people looking at you 80 ft away. Then of course the 3 rd floor 50 meter pool.

  29. OCFlyer says:
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    This list does not include Yale, the Lakeside Quarry, Santa Clara, or Mission Viejo. Not saying all of them should be on the list, but none? I’m feeling some Big 10/Big 12 bias here.

    If you aren’t familiar with any of these pools, do yourself a favor and drag out the old Googles. Yale feels more like a boxing arena than a pool; Lakeside could be a national park; and George Haines/ Mission Viejo are self-explanatory to anyone who loves this sport.

    • USA BIAS says:
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      I always LOL when people come on here and spout “bias” as justification for getting their point across. Big10/Bi12 bias? There’s only one Big 10 and only one Big 12 pool on the list. There’s two from the SEC, one from the ACC, and one from the Pac 12.

      The list is clearly done from the vantage point of ‘if your a swim fan, these are pools where you need to swim meets’ and I would have a hard time believing that there’s any meets at the lakeside quarry that needs to be seen. Maybe its pretty to swim in, but theres no reason to ever go to a meet there. same with mission viejo.

  30. Dr Deluxe says:
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    I second the motion for Los Banos, but want to add Islamarada, Key Wests Founders Park.
    Nothing like swimming in the morning as the sun rises and seeing the tops of all those
    beautiful sailing ships…a great experience at both pools.
    I also like the idea of the TOP 10 retro pools…there are already some great suggestions but don’t forget the precurser to Univ of Minnesota’s mega pool..the old Cooke Hall! Hadn’t seen or been in it in over 40 years and it was a great experience! 6 lane, totally deep and a spectator area that reminds me of the Mad Max Thunder Dome arena!!!!

  31. Coach rich says:
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    For the “most beautiful” category, I submit Rollins college as a great venue. Palm trees frame the pool view of lake Virginia, great resort atmosphere. Has been named one of the best places to have a dual meet.

  32. Jay Ryan says:
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    The worst pool ever is the old Colgate Hoyt pool at Brown Univ Pool that was finally boarded over in 1973 with opening of the now defunct Smith Swim Ctr. 4 Narrow lanes, no deck space (literally none) and they had to remove a piece of the ceiling for diving. Pool was in use until 1972—really. See photo
    http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/University_Library/exhibits/sports/facilities/colgatehoytpool.gif

  33. Stanford fan says:
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    “Indiana as the largest permanent facility in the country”? Let’s look at Stanford:
    1. TWO world class 50 -meter pools (3rd under construction !!!)
    2. One stadium pool for short course swim & water polo
    3. Diving stadium
    4. Two outdoor spas
    5. State of the art swim video center
    6. Six locker rooms
    UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 2013: Stanford is four weeks from completing it’s
    third 50-meter pool, complete with 100 foot graduated walk-in ramp on side of pool for wheelchairs.
    BOTTOM LINE: Stanford has largest competitive aquatic facility in the world. Glad to be corrected because I don’t travel that much? Just research on Internet.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      Stanford fan – this is referring to seating capacity. Even with all of those pools, Indy still has more seats than the Avery Aquatic Center.

    • BaldingEagle says:
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      Challenge Stadium in Australia is the largest permanent aquatics facility in the world. Plus, it has hosted THREE major international meets. World Championships, Pan Pacs, FINA Masters.

      It has:
      1 Indoor 50m pool (8 lanes)
      1 indoor Diving Well
      1 indoor Water Polo pool
      2 outdoor 50m pools (10 and 8 lanes)
      1 outdoor diving well
      1 outdoor WP pool

    • BaldingEagle says:
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      While Stanford is GREAT, I wouldn’t call the older 50m pool “world class.” It is 25 yards wide, into which 10 lanes are squeezed (7+ feet each), and about 4 or 4.5 feet deep at the turn end. The older pool is a great pool for a LC meet warm-up facility. The swim stadium is great for WP and swimming: the Cal-Stanford games/meets must be amazing.

  34. Sophie says:
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    So I just “happened” to pass by this. And I gotta say I don’t agree with all these pools on this list. I admit to being a little bias being a socal swimmer, so i do favourite some of the socal pools. I absolutely LOVED swimming at woollett this summer for juniors! So william woolett would definetly be on my top 10. Also the king aquatic center in federal way, i absolutely love that pool, swimming sectionals there for short course is super fun! Belmont has to be on my list too, r.i.p. belmont, but hopefully the new belmont is even better! I also enjoyed sectionals this summer at santa clarita, it was super hot, and there isnt a ton of specator area, but it was a fast pool. I agree with palo alto though, definetly an amazing pool, it’s huge! I also agree with fort lauderdale. I’ve swam at the IUPUI, but I only added there, so i cant say i liked it that much. I also recently swam at the newer riverside complex in riverside california, it’s a 65meter pool with bulkheads plus 2more small warm up/warm down pools, it was a very nice pool and I enjoyed it, Southern Calfiornia hold their high school CIF there last year. But yeah

  35. Mark Braun says:
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    New Trier (IL) was the first high school in the country with a swimming pool in the building. New Trier pool, built in the late 1930s, is an 8 lane gem that seats over 1,000 for high school. I have worked the games for the high school. There is nothing like the Illinois state preliminaries and the finals. I have stood videoing for 12 hours for New Trier closed circuit throughout the school. This year (2013) the girls championship is at New Trier. For high school swimming experience…there is nothing like New Trier…and that includes Evanston. I have worked both. It might be that New Trier pool holds more, but 1,000+ screaming during the top heats of the preliminary is simply incredible. It compares to no other high school competition anywhere. By the way, the first interscholastic meet anywhere in the US was New Trier v. Evanston in 1012/

    • Alex says:
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      Evanston swim alum here, I couldn’t disagree more with Evanston not being as good as NT for a high school swim meet. I’ve swam several meets and been a spectator for many more in each pool and from both perspectives Evanston is better. It’s possible that the new trier pool is louder because of the design, but at the same time half the spectators can’t see the entire pool because of support pylons. As a swimmer diving into the shallow end is the worst! Also Evanston having a warm down pool (the WD pool is under the camera in this pic) is a huge plus, that little guy in the back is always hot tub temperature and is a great pool to flop into after a race. I’d say the one huge boost NT has is the control of the pool chlorination…always seemed like the Evanston pool had trouble with that.

  36. Paul Smith says:
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    Great choices, have to agree that Belmont IF it was still a place to be visited would be in consideration.

    Also hoping that (bias warning here!) Skyline Aquatic Center will soon develop the same type of reputation….an incredibly fast outdoor pool, gorgeous views of the Superstition Mountains as the backdrop and the proximity to the pool edge/athletes makes for an incredibly intimate fan experiance. We were very honored to have been nominated for Amateur Sporting event of 2013 after hosting just our first Grand Prix event:

    https://www.facebook.com/MesaGrandPrix

  37. Nathan says:
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    I would not put the IU Nat anywhere in the top ten. The pool is okay to swim in, but the facilities are run down. The lockers rooms are full of broken lockers and half the showers do not work. If you train there, you must work around their closing schedules, because they do not always have enough staff for the instructional when there is an event in the competition pool. They have a fitness center, but most the equipment looks like it has seen better days. The facility has great potential, but years of mismanagement have taken its toll.

  38. CwaveT215 says:
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    C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, Ohio is an incredible atmosphere that will give you chills when you’re swimming a relay it is so loud. Between the top teams in the state: St. X, St. Francis, Ursuline academy and Upper Arlington the fans get wild.

    Unfortunately the actual quality of the pool is terrible. I’d know after swimming at the state meet for four years in high school. The pool needs to be deeper and the gutters better so the wake doesn’t effect the swimmers so much. Another problem is the air quality and deck space. The majority of teams stay in a gym behind the scenes.

    The Ohio high school state meet needs to be moved to The Ohio State University. The atmosphere will be the same, the stands will still be full and the conditions/actual pool will be much better for the swimmers.

  39. Tim says:
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    HOW does Spire Institute not make this list …

    And, lighting is everything. Some politics in play that IU still gets OT imo

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