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Starting this semester, Bulldog swimmers and divers are training in the newly-renovated third-floor practice pool in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

After several months of construction work, the practice pool successfully upgraded its air quality, temperature control and lighting. Additionally, the movable bulkheads were repaired, and finishes were applied to the ceiling, walls and floor. The pool is used for varsity swim practices, intramural competitions, club sport events and miscellaneous recreational activities.

“Overall, the renovations at the practice pool have enhanced the look of the space, improved and expanded the capabilities of the mechanical system and will improve the quality of the experience for varsity and recreational swimmers,” said Edward Mockus, who is a senior associate athletic director of facilities and operations. “The project took several months to complete, and we are thrilled with the finished product.”

The improvements included replacing the old fluorescent lights with LEDs. These fixtures provide improved lighting to comply with the recommended NCAA standards for pools. The lighting is further enhanced by the new drop ceiling, wall tiles and fresh paint coat that creates a brighter and sharper aesthetic.

In addition, a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning — or HVAC — system provides superior command of managing the air quality. Newly installed giant ventilation ducts move heated air through ceiling hanging tubes. These additions, paired with new energy efficient windows, maintain water and room temperatures at optimal levels independent of seasonal weather.

“The renovated practice pool has been a significant addition to the second half of our season; the entire team can comfortably practice at the same time again,” swimmer Caitlin Tycz ’22 said. “Although the exhibition pool is a little older, it is an incredible place to race … From the moment you walk on deck or into the stands, you can feel the rich history of the pool. Before racing, I look up at the banners hanging from the ceiling — Yale swimming and diving, the American flag and the Ivy League logo. This is a reminder of how lucky I am to wear a Yale cap and race for this team and school.”

The renovation was meant to be wide-reaching in scope. While interior changes were being made, other pool areas were also modernized. The moveable bulkheads were rebuilt and retrofitted. The pool drain pipes were replaced, and the overall water filtration was upgraded.

The third-floor pool was the world’s first suspended pool. Initially constructed in 1932, it gave Yale the opportunity to field a larger squad. In its early days, the pool was used by legendary Yale coach Robert J.H. Kiphuth, and top American swimmers came to Yale in the 1950s. Decades ago, Yale’s facilities were the best in the country, and athletes from other colleges came to use them in the summer.

“The recent renovation was a nice face lift to an aging gem,” associate coach of swimming and diving Kyle Schack said. “Technology and norms have changed since our facilities were built in 1932, and an update would be welcomed for sure. Our diving team, which has been great over the years, would greatly benefit from a new facility by creating more space dedicated to diving which will free up their time, as they currently pinch every minute of their day. Right now, Princeton has the nicest facility in the conference, and I’ll tell you what: Our students have shown that the people make the team, not the facility.”

The third-floor pool is an Olympic-size pool, 50 meters in length.

Eugenio Garza Garcia | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu