Stephen C. O'Connell Center Natatorium
The Stephen C. O'Connell Center Natatorium, home of the Gator swimming and diving program, is home to one of the fastest facilities in the country. Since its opening in January 1981, the pool has been the site of many prestigious events, including the inaugural NCAA Women's Championships in 1982; the women's SEC Championships in 1984, 1989, 1998, 2005 and 2011; and the men's SEC Championships in 1981, 1985, 1989, 1998, 2005 and 2011. In addition, the 1982 United States Swimming Short Course Nationals, the 1993 U.S.S. Junior National Championships and the 2000 and 2004 Junior Olympic Swimming Championships were held at UF.
Most recently, the O'Connell Center Natatorium had its entire pool deck revamped, while completely renovating the 1,600-square foot "Gator Wall of Champions." Before that, the area underwent a major renovation totaling approximately $850,000. A new indoor hot tub, champions picture wall, a Mondo diving surface and a dry diving board and overhead spotting rig were just a few of the new amenities added.
Did You Know?
- The pool holds 847,000 gallons of water
- The natatorium has room for more than 3,000 fans
- In 1994, a $75,000 state-of-the-art color matrix scoreboard was installed, and was recently updated in the summer of 2010
- Florida Olympians such as Ryan Lochte and Gemma Spofforth use the five-lane 50-meter outdoor pool for Olympic training
- Ranks among the finest in the nation
- Comprised of two one-meter boards, two three-meter boards, one five-meter platform and one 10-meter platform
- Features a hot tub and underwater viewing room
- Training apparatus includes a trampoline set-up with an overhead spotting rig and a one-meter board over a port-a-pit
The pool is considered one of the fastest in the world because the water remains so calm during competition. The pool bottom slopes rapidly from five feet to 18 feet, greatly reducing the rebound of waves from the bottom. The extensive gutter system also absorbs water slapping against the sides to help eliminate waves.
The 847,000-gallon pool can be used as two 25-yard courses with a warm-up area in the middle; two 25-meter courses; or at its full 50-meter long course use. Seating is good for 1,200 spectators, but as many as 3,000 have filled the confines of the O'Connell Center to watch Florida battle some of the nation's finest competition.
A $75,000 12' x 13' state-of-the-art full color matrix scoreboard was installed in the spring of 1994. The scoreboard is complete with graphics, video, timing and scoring information that keeps fans posted on all of the swimming and diving action.
The O'Connell Center, which houses the natatorium, had its Teflon roof replaced with a hard, permanent surface that was completed in August 1998.
Outdoor Training Facility
The five-lane, 50-meter pool is used for daily training in conjunction with the indoor facility. It is also used for warm-up purposes while competition is taking place inside. The outdoor pool sits adjacent to the indoor facility and offers easy access between the two through a revolving door on the ground level of the O'Connell Center. The warm-up and training pool is well lit for swimming at night and allows Gator swimmers to enjoy Florida's mild temperatures while training. Two hot tubs with hydrotherapy jets, a variety of pull-up bars, dip bars and VASA training equipment are also located on the outdoor pool deck.
The Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex officially opened in summer of 1998, giving the Florida swimming and diving programs a new home. It is a state-of-the-art building that houses the UF coaches' offices, coaches and team locker rooms, an athlete lounge, conference room and meeting area and offers access to the 50-meter pool directly behind the complex. The building is named for Wayne and Jimmie Carse of Orlando, Fla., whose generous gift of over $820,000 made the construction of the complex possible. The building was renovated in the summer of 2011 to provide a more clean-cut modern image that promotes the rich history and tradition of the program.
"The Carses have been Bull Gators in support of our football team for years," said Phil Pharr, senior director of development for Gator Boosters, Inc. "They are an example of our athletic supporters who ask, 'How can I help', and did with their contribution to our swimming and diving programs."
Carse, who serves on the Gator Booster Board of Trustees for UF, and his wife have supported Gator athletics for the past 20 years.
The diving facilities in the O'Connell Center are equal to the best in the country. The equipment includes two one-meter boards, two three-meter boards, one five-meter platform and one 10-meter platform, a hot tub and an underwater viewing room for judging and photography.
But what sets Florida's diving training apart is the practice apparatus. The Gators practice with a trampoline set-up with an overhead spotting rig and a one-meter board over a port-a-pit.
The O'Connell Center also includes a 200-meter track, a complete gymnastics studio, volleyball courts, a basketball practice court, a martial arts room, a weight training center, administrative offices and a 12,000-seat main arena for basketball games, volleyball matches, gymnastic meets, concerts and commencement.
The Stephen C. O'Connell Center Natatorium is another example of Florida's commitment to excellence, a commitment that finds the Gator swimming and diving program on the cutting edge year after year.