If I Had 2 Million Dollars, I’d Fill a Pool With Spaghetti (And Other Ways to Spend Atrocious Sums of Money)

Tip of the hat to NCAA Division III National Champion Caroline Wilson, who inspired us with her Tweet.

How much spaghetti would you have to cook to fill a pool? How much would it cost to fill a pool with Jell-0? Is anyone rich enough to swim in their own pool of money? How many bottles of Gatorade would it take to completely fill a pool? If Nathan Adrian decided to train exclusively in syrup rather than water, how many bottles of syrup would he need ? Recently, a few of our twitter followers tweeted some thought provoking questions and ideas to our twitter account. As someone who has nothing better to do than memorize swimming stats, I thought it would be interesting to try to answer some of these questions.

In May of 2013, SwimSwam compiled a list of the top 10 must-visit sites for a swim meet in the United States. With so many great facilities throughout the country, it was hard to narrow down a specific pool. We could fill up any pool with jell-o or spaghetti, but why fill any random pool when we can fill the number 1 must-visit site for a swim meet in the United States; the IUPUI Natatorium.

The biggest permanent swimming facility in the United States is perhaps home to a huge part 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 100+ American Records and 15 World Records. It has hosted 14 men’s NCAA Championship meets, 14 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. Courtesy: IUPUI. Photo of the 50 free final at the 2009 World Championship Trials.

The main competition pool at the IUPUI natatorium is 50 meters long, 25 yards wide, and has a depth of 9 feet at the walls and 10 feet in the middle of the pool. For these calculations, we gone with 3 meters as an average depth.

To fill the main competition pool at IUPUI, you need roughly 3,429 cubic meters, 905,845.97 gallons, or 115,948,284 fluid ounces of water. 


Patch Adams. Courtesy: Universal Pictures

If you are going to fill a pool with something other than water, there are a few staples of a swimmers diet that must be considered. We started off with the first foods/drinks that came to mind; spaghetti and chocolate milk. We used a food preparation guide published by Kraft to help us calculate how much dry spaghetti we would need to fill the pool with cooked spaghetti. We also based the price of chocolate milk on the national average at the end of 2013, which was $3.46/gallon.

To fill the IUPUI competition pool, 33,128,082 ounces of dry spaghetti needs to be cooked to have enough spaghetti noodles to fill the pool. That is 2,070,505 pounds of uncooked spaghetti. After the spaghetti is cooked, the water that the noodles absorb add a significant amount of weight. The 2,070,505 pounds of uncooked spaghetti will end up weighing 5,176,262.5 pounds after it is cooked. You can buy a 4 pound package of dry spaghetti at Walmart that costs $3.78. To buy enough spaghetti to fill the IUPUI competition pool, it would cost $1,956,628.


Courtesy: USA Swimming

We all know how much a swimmer can eat, but to really enjoy a pool full of spaghetti, you need a pool full of chocolate milk to wash it all down! As we stated earlier, you need 905,845.97 gallons to fill the pool. To buy enough chocolate milk to fill the IUPUI competition pool, it would cost $3,134,227.06! Just remember to shower before you dive in, and regardless of what Ryan Lochte says, don’t pee in the pool!

Another fun idea that was brought up on Twitter was Jell-o. After stopping at the grocery store, I found 3 ounce packages of strawberry Jell-o for $0.99 a box. The directions called for 16 ounces of water for every 3 ounces of jell-o mix. At that rate, it would require 21,740,304 boxes of 3 ounce Jell-o’s to fill the pool, which would cost you $21,522,900.96.

Gatorade is something you see on the side of the pool at most practices and swim meets across the country. Your average bottle of gatorade costs $1.25 at the vending machine and contains 20 ounces of the sports drink. If you bought 5,797,415 bottles of gatorade, you could fill the entire IUPUI competition pool. If you paid for each one of those bottles individually, it would cost you $7,246,768.75.

When you step away from food, many of you will remember the famous Disney cartoon character, Scrooge McDuck. Named after Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge McDuck is an elderly Scottish white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a blue or red coat, top hat, and glasses and is portrayed in animations as speaking with a slight Scottish accent. His character is known for his wealth, and within the context of the fictional Disney universe, he is the world’s richest person.

Scrooge McDuck's Money Vault. Image: The Walt Disney Company

Scrooge McDuck’s Money Vault. Image: The Walt Disney Company

We liked the concept of swimming in money so we calculated how many bills it would take to fill the pool with stacks of freshly minted bills, and how much it would cost.

  • To swim with President George Washington (1 Dollar Bills) = $30,353,560,839,695.00
  • To swim with President Abraham Lincoln (5 Dollar Bills) = $151,767,804,198,475.00
  • To swim with Alexander Hamilton (10 Dollar Bills) = $303,535,608,396,950.00
  • To swim with President Andrew Jackson (20 Dollar Bills) = $607,071,216,793,900.00
  • To swim with President Ulysses S. Grant (50 Dollar Bills) = $1,517,678,041,984,750.00
  • To swim with Benjamin Franklin (100 Dollar Bills) = $3,035,356,083,969,500.00

I was attempting to explain to a friend of mine how much it would cost to fill a pool with money and “swim with the presidents.” I realized I was talking to the wrong audience when he interrupted and told me, “Seeing that there are H20 molecules that fill the pool, and H20 molecules that made up the presidents, I’ll stick with the $6 open swim fee and swim in the water. It is kind of the same thing, just way cheaper!”

With all this talk about swimming in substances other than water, it reminds me of my favorite episode of Myth Busters. They were trying to prove that you could swim just as fast in syrup as you could in water. In this episode, Adam and Jamie began by digging two long trenches and lining them with plastic sheeting to serve as swimming pools. They filled one with water and the other with syrup made from 750 pounds (340 kg) of guar gum and 10,000 US gallons (38,000 L) of water. Adam and Jamie each swam three lengths in the water to establish their benchmark average times, then did the same in the syrup. Adam’s time in syrup was 28% slower than in water; Jamie tired quickly and withdrew from further testing.

Thinking that the high viscosity of the syrup may have affected the results, Adam and Jamie replaced it with a mixture that was only slightly more viscous than water. Adam again swam three lengths in each pool and found that his syrup time was now only 2.8% slower than in water. A third batch, this one about as viscous as maple syrup, was prepared for both Adam and Olympic gold medalist, Nathan Adrian. Adam and Nathan swam 5.4% and 9% slower here than in water, respectively (though Adam and Jamie decided to disregard Nathan’s results, since he was so familiar with swimming in water that he lost his technique in the syrup and thus could not deliver a consistent performance). Based on the results for light and medium syrup, which they considered to be within the margin of error for their testing method, Adam and Jamie declared the myth plausible.


Tweet from Myth Busters star Adam Savage after Nathan Adrain won the 100m freestyle at the 2012 Olympics in London.

If Nathan Adrian were to try to benefit from the high viscosity of the syrup and decided to switch his training to syrup full-time, he would need to buy 4,831,179 bottles of syrup. Walmart sells syrup in 24 ounce bottles for $2.98. To fill the IUPUI pool full of syrup, it would cost Nathan $14,396,913.42.

If you look hard enough, I am sure you can find a more efficient and cheaper way to find the materials needed to fill the IUPUI Natatorium or any pool you can think of with the non-water material of your choice. I based all of my figures on sizes and prices available at Walmart or a local grocery store.

If you could fill a pool with anything you wanted to, what would it be? Would you like to dive into Jell-o? Maybe you’d like to swim through 100 dollar bills! Looking all of this information up and calculating the costs reminded me of a scene from the movie, Patch Adams. Robin Williams’ plays a doctor who believes laughter is the best medicine. One of his patients told him that when she was a little girl, she dreamed of swimming in a pool full of noodles.

If swimming in a pool full of noodles can bring that much joy to someone, than I say fill it up!! Let us know what you want to see a pool full of, it can’t hurt anything to have fun with the idea!

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Dry Swimmer

I would fill a pool with lotion and swim in that. I need to get rid of this chlorine dry skin somehow.

3 things…

1) this is without a doubt the swimnerdiest thing I’ve ever seen
3) Duck Tales… a-woo-oo…

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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