Liberty University has announced a plan to fully remove and rebuild the less-than 3-year old diving tower at its natatorium after a platform collapsed into the pool in June.
A 1-meter diving platform collapsed on Wednesday, June 24 at the Liberty Natatorium. No injuries were reported.
The collapse was the latest problem for the $20 million, 75,000 square foot natatorium was opened during the 2017-2018 season. It has been plagued by issues – mostly relating to the timing system.
The school has hired a demolition contractor to cut a large hole in the ball wall of the natatorium and rmeove the entirety of the main tower, including the 1-meter, 3-meter, 5-meter, 7.5-meter, and 10-meter diving platforms.
The standalone 1-meter and 3-meter springboards will remain in place and will be used for training and competition by the Liberty diving program during the 2020-2021 season. Then, in March 2021, after the conclusion of the season, the school will rebuild the main tower with a plan to be fully functional.
The release announcing the new tower, for the first time, gave an explanation for the collapse.
“After extensive investigation including some destructive testing where we actually removed concrete to see the structural support inside the concrete, it has been determined that the tower was not constructed per the design engineer’s specifications,” said Liberty Vice President of Major Construction Dan Deter. “In reviewing all this information and wanting to do the proper and safe thing, we made the decision to remove the platforms and reconstruct completely.”
The school has not said whether they believe the structures that hold the springboard apparatus are free of the same defect (given that those will continue to be used).
The school has also not answered whether or not Glass & Associates, the contractor that built the pool, will be making the repairs, and whether evidence was provided that other parts of the 75,000 square foot natatorium with seating for 1,414 are safe from the same errors.
Like most NCAA programs, Liberty has not yet announced its 2020-2021 schedule, though the school located in Virginia continues to move forward with plans for fall athletics. That includes announcing two replacement football games this week to replace other games that have been canceled by their opponents.
Last season, Liberty won its second-straight CCSA conference title in women’s swimming & diving. That included a 1-3-5 placement on the 1-meter, and a 2-3 finish on the 3-meter. Sophomore Lauren Chennault was the conference champion on 1-meter.
The conference hosts a platform event at its championship meet, but that is for exhibition and NCAA qualifying purposes only, not impacting team scoring.
Liberty hosted the 2019 CCSA Conference Championship meet in its new pool. The 2021 championship is scheduled for the University of Tennessee.
Liberty will start the new season with a new head diving coach, Andrew Helmich.