Keeping Up with the Joneses in College Football

by SwimSwam Partner Content 9

January 02nd, 2019 Industry

If you’ve kept up with the NCAA prospective college football prospects signing and enrolling, did you ever wonder what these college football programs are doing to set themselves apart from other schools? What you may not know is that programs are doing just that by adding aquatic facilities to their already high-class training facilities.

Prospective student athletes began signing their letters of intent on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018, continuing through January 15th, 2019. These athletes are not only looking for schools and coaches that will help them with their educational – and for some, professional – aspirations, they are also taking note of the top-rated facilities that will help them recover faster and train harder to make their dreams reality. Counsilman-Hunsaker and Associates’ design studios have brought many of these facilities to fruition through designing and specifying aquatic therapy elements that add to these colleges’ ever-expanding training facilities.

Trends in the aquatic therapy market for facilities of this nature have included items such as cold and hot ‘plunge pools’, hot and cold spas set with hydrotherapy benches and jets, resistance water training, and underwater treadmills that benefit student athletes’ recovery between practices or after games. Not only are they serving their function in aiding in recovery, but each are also playing a huge role in the recruiting game. Additional aesthetics such as adding graphics to the pool areas or adding ‘wow’ factors such as waterfalls further enhance the experience of current and prospective student athletes.

Dive deeper with us into some of the facilities for which Counsilman-Hunsaker’s aquatic designers and engineers have provided design services and see if your favorite school is on the list with premier aquatic training facilities!

University of Alabama

Mal Moore Football renovation
Kent Gidley

At the University of Alabama, the accomplished football program and championships speak for themselves. In August 2013, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s $9 million renovation of the Mal Moore Football Building was completed. Integrated within the new locker room were two new hydrotherapy spas used by players before and after football practice or games. Other upgrades included a team meeting room (seating 212), various position meeting rooms and a player’s lounge.

The hydrotherapy spas include one cold spa and one hot spa, with the hot spa having the capability to be converted into a second cold spa. The hot spa, which can accommodate up to 27 people, incorporates four waterfalls and underwater lights. The cold spa includes underwater lights and can also accommodate 27 people. The hot spa operates at temperatures from 102 to 106 degrees while the cold spa operates from 60 to 65 degrees.

Clemson University

HOK, Clemson Football Operations Facility, Clemson SC

Clemson University officially opened its new $55 million football operations center in February 2017. This 145,000 square-foot complex is the largest and most programmatically inclusive football-specific training facility in the nation. The state-of-the-art building connects the indoor practice facility and outdoor practice fields, consolidating football operations into one complex.

Designed to support the day-to-day activities of players, coaches, and staff, the new Allen N. Reeves Football Operations Complex further elevates the Tigers’ football program, and promotes the recruitment, training and development of student-athletes. Functioning as a home away from home for many of the athletes, the complex offers amenities that allow the student athletes to train, study, or simply unwind in one place. Features include outdoor leisure and entertainment space, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy, steam, and recovery rooms, and a Gatorade fuel bar. The aquatic amenities include six stunning bodies of water including a therapy pool with ramp and stair entry, Hydroworx® 3500 pool with underwater surveillance system, a Hydroworx® 1200 pool with a moveable floor, a Hydroworx® thermal plunge pool, a Hydroworx® polar plunge pool and a cold spa that includes two hydrotherapy bench areas and underwater bench area located in the locker room.

 Georgia Tech

The Georgia Tech football facility is the oldest in Division I and was host to its first collegiate games before World War I. In 2018, the newly-renovated, 8,100 ft² football team locker room, located at Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, looked to honor the history of the program with an eye to the future. The new locker rooms include a large focal feature on the ceiling for the team to gather around, 116 ventilated lockers, each with a 15 -inch digital video screen that can be used as a nameplate or to display highlights, sleek interior finishes, adjustable lighting, upgraded mechanical systems, in addition to new sinks, toilets, and showers.

The trademark ‘GT’ hexagonal pattern is expressed throughout the design, tying the lockers, ceiling feature, graphics, and even the tile accenting around the spas into a cohesive and consistent branding element. The cold spa, capable of holding 18 people, is utilized primarily during post-workout recovery and includes an underwater bench. The hot spa, capable of accommodating up to 11 people, provides bench seating around the full perimeter complete with hydrotherapy jets.

 University of Iowa

In the fall of 2014, the University of Iowa celebrated the grand opening of the new Richard O. Jacobson Football Operations Building. Because of his continued support for the Hawkeyes and generous donations of millions of dollars to numerous university programs, the facility was dedicated to Mr. Jacobson. This 76,000 ft² football practice facility guarantees an exceptional experience for the student athletes who participate in Iowa’s football program.

One of the main attractions of the facility is the aquatic area itself, featuring a two lane, 25-yard therapy pool and two hydrotherapy spas designed to help soothe the muscles of players before and after football practice or games. Aquatic amenities include a 550 square-foot therapy pool with stairway entry and varying depths of 3’-6”, 4’-10”, and 6’-4, a ‘hot plunge’ hydrotherapy spa with underwater bench and hydrotherapy jets, and a ‘cold plunge’ hydrotherapy spa with hydrotherapy jets. The therapy pool also includes underwater treadmills to aid in athletic rehabilitation.

If you didn’t see your favorite team on the list, there’s still more! Counsilman-Hunsaker has also designed facilities for the University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Maryland, Penn State University, West Virginia University, Northwestern University and University of South Carolina. For more information on these facilities or to get in touch with one of our many aquatic facility designers, head over to!

About Counsilman-Hunsaker: Counsilman-Hunsaker is a full-service aquatic design and operations firm with offices in St. Louis, Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles and an international reputation for innovation and integrity. For 49 years, Counsilman-Hunsaker has led the industry by completing countless aquatics projects of every size and complexity. Our years of aquatic experience, paired with our passion for innovation, have helped bring new and exciting aquatic facilities to life while providing safe and sustainable aquatic operations for millions of people around the globe. Check us out at

Courtesy of Counsilman-Hunsaker, a SwimSwam Partner. 

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. . . .And we see the continuing closures and/or reductions in D1, D2, and D3 swimming programs everywhere – even when the alleged “savings” are a pittance! Why?
I think this article’s implicit message and answer are clear: swimming does not count, but Football does
— even while most D1 football programs are money losers, too. . . .


Mike, football pays the bills, and only do so effectively when they are winning and in the national spotlight. That occurs when you have the best coaches and players, which requires the best facilities

If bama or Clemson cuts swimming while building $100m renovations to their facilities then get back to me.

You think UCLA cut swimming at the expense of renovations to football or basketball? Hogwash

College sports in general is losing proposition, money wise, for most schools and sports, but football and some basketball are still the ones that provide the revenue for all other sports.


Um Clemson did….


Clemson cut their swimming program in 2012, around the same time their $55MM football operations building was being planned.


And now that Clemson is flush with football cash, don’t hold your breath on them reinstating swimming…

Joel Lin

I seem to also recall that Maryland cut 7 non-revenue sports as part of an austerity program because – according to UM administrators – the ACC did not have a cable TV network generating revenue. Looking past the selective amnesia part that Yow almost bankrupted the state trying to turn Maryland into a national football power, which is just precious actually, the current administrators at UM haven’t given one look toward reinstatement for any of the dropped sports including men’s & women’s swimming. But despite no teams Maryland does have a world class acqcs aquatics center – which is the most Maryland thing ever if you think about it.


Maryland Athletics is pretty incompetent. That is all. Very nice facility (not sure I would call it world class); no NCAA swimteam; no water polo team, no college club team, no US club team to speak of (they killed that off too with mismanagement) and not even particularly competent or user friendly for running club meets at their facility. It’s a rec pool for very limited staff, faculty and students to lap swim.


You would think that with the US Olympic trials selling close to 250,000 tickets over an 8 day meet, that the NCAA could figure out how to create “some” revenue from swimming to keep the sport viable. Another revenue stream would be using college swimming facilities to create revenue. Lessons, events, etc. just more reasons why non aquatic people should not be involved in aquatic decision making.

There’s a few issues with that. NCAA women’s championships have frequently not sold out (last time they were in Federal Way, for example, they didn’t), so the interest doesn’t seem to be there. The format of the NCAA Championships just isn’t compelling enough. If you could guarantee a meet like last year’s men’s meet, coming down to the wire with multiple teams involved, every year, then ticket sales would be huge. Last year was the exception, not the rule, though, so one fix for NCAA swimming to really explode is to force parity and competitiveness. Most college natatoriums aren’t owned by the athletics departments. That’s actually a good thing – they’re rarely profitable, and it saves a big capital expense… Read more »

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