James E. Martin Aquatics Center
Draped with banners honoring the six-time Men's NCAA Champions, four-time Women's NCAA Champions and 15 SEC titles, the James E. Martin Aquatics Center has been home to the Auburn swimming and diving team since it opened in 1993. Chosen to host some of the top competitions in the sport of swimming, the Aquatics Center is designed as one of the premier natatoriums in the nation, and provides Auburn and its athletes with the perfect facility for training and competition.
During the 2002-03 season, the center was showcased on multiple occasions, as the Southeastern Conference Championships was held here for the third time since dedication and the 2003 Women's NCAA Championship was hosted by Auburn from March 20-22. The facility had also previously hosted the 1998 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving National Championships. The Oct. 7, 2002, issue of Sports Illustrated rated the pool third fastest pool in the country. During the course of the two championship events in 2003, a total of 12 SEC records were established while seven new NCAA records were set during the women's championships.
Formally dedicated on April 30, 1994, the $10.5 million center is named for former Auburn president Dr. James E. Martin, a key player in the project's undertaking.
The 63,000 square-foot facility opened in October, 1993, and hosted nine collegiate competitions during its first year of operation including the 1994 Southeastern Conference Championships. Since its opening, the facility has become a home to a multitude of national and international Olympic teams. Auburn swim teams have competed against members of the U.S. National Team in competitions, the U.S. Water Polo Team has used the facility for training sessions and competitions and various other national teams called the Martin Aquatics Center home in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta including China, Japan, Finland, Israel and South Africa.
The center played host to the US Open in 1995, 2000 and just last season (2005). The three-day meet featured approximately 800 of the top American and international swimmers.
The swimming center complex, located between Beard-Eaves Coliseum and the Student Activities Center, houses an Olympic-size pool with two moveable bulkheads which allow for variable distance competition and simultaneous diving.
The center is equipped with seating for approximately 1000 spectators with an additional 800 seats for competitors on the pool deck. The facility adjoins Auburn's former swimming facility, which has undergone an extensive renovation and now serves as a warm-up and practice pool. The facility was designed with speed in mind and results from the 1998 NCAA Men's Championships, 1994 SEC Championships and 1995 US Open prove that the pool is one of the nation's fastest.
The design of the pool incorporates a state of the art gutter system which absorbs waves rather than reverberating them back into to the competition pool. Ultimately, the design creates a calmer pool and reduces the amount of turbulence swimmers must face. In addition, the bulkheads feature a flow-through design which minimizes waves rebounding on turns.
The pool is nine feet deep at its most shallow point and 16.5 feet deep beneath the diving apparatus. The diving facility features two one-meter springboards, two three-meter springboards and five platform levels (1-, 3-, 5-, 7.5- and 10-meters). The floor of the diving well is navy blue and provides a darker contrast which makes it easier for divers to spot the water during the course of a dive.
AU head coach David Marsh sees the possibilities for Auburn and its athletes as endless with the facility.
''It is exciting to be able to bring the best there is in NCAA sports, and swimming in particular, to Auburn,'' Marsh says. ''It is something we hoped to be able to do when we built the pool. I think the people in the Auburn community will get to see swimmers in some special meets. Swimming is unique in that you only get a couple of opportunities to perform at a peak level each season. Certainly, the NCAAs is the ultimate peak performance event of the season and our goal at the start of every season, is to be the best we can be.''
But for Auburn, the road does not end there.
''Our primary team goal is to contend for NCAA and SEC titles,'' Marsh says. ''We also embrace the pursuit of individual Olympic dreams by our student athletes. This dynamic pool allows us to train and compete in one of the nation's finest facilities.''
For years, Auburn University has had one of the top competition and training facilities in the country in the James E. Martin Aquatic Center. In the fall of 2007, Auburn furthered the commitment to its athletes as the Tigers opened their new outdoor pool, adjacent to AU's Student Activities Center.
Sitting at the former site of Auburn's Luther Young Tennis Courts, the outdoor pool is 50-meters long and 25-meters wide. It can be set up with 10 lanes for long course (50-meter) swimming or 22 lanes for short course (25-meters).
The pool holds 600,000 gallons of water and is heated so that it can be used throughout the year.
"The outdoor facility adds that additional level of flexibility for our training and preparation," said head coach Richard Quick. "Swimmers, for the most part, if the weather is nice would rather train outdoors because of the air quality and the freshness, the sunshine, everything that goes along with swimming outdoors."
Along with the bonus of training outdoors, the outdoor pool offers an advantage in training for international competitions as many of those are held outdoors.
"It is a wonderful training facility, it is a tremendous complement to the indoor facility that we have," said Quick. "It is also is a tremendous asset in regard to recruiting and to training, in particular at the Olympic level."