Read the full article here
The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina, already a center-point of the state’s robust swimming industry, is getting a little bigger. On Monday, the center will open a new outdoor 50-meter pool, which will be the first outdoor pool of that size built in Eastern North Carolina since 1981.
This gives the facility 9 new 50-meter lanes or 20 new 25-yard lanes, depending on the pool setup. The pool also includes both heating and chilling technology, allowing swimmers to train outdoors year-round.
“This new 50-meter pool and supporting amenities demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the growth of health, safety and swimming in the Triangle community,” said Michael Curran, Founder of TAC. “TAC now offers our community four pools totaling 1.75 million gallons of water and fifty-five swim lanes on a 21.5-acre aquatic campus at a cost of $32.5 million.”
The pool also features built-in canopies for coaches and athletes.
The new pool cost $5.5 million, and like most of the costs for the pool, it was financed and repaid by the operating success of the facility’s programs.
Mark Crank, the center’s director of operations, said that there were a lot of reasons to add water to the center.
“Programming at TAC had almost completely filled the availability of the existing water, particularly during prime hours,” Frank said. “Programming includes events, our TAC TITANS, Learn-to-Swim, Certifications, Fitness, Open Swim Lanes, and Community Rentals.
“From a community standpoint, we needed to increase the capacity for our Center which will allow all programming additional space.”
Frank says that the TAC Titans, a club that ranked #1 in the nation in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program for 2021, has long wait lists as well. The new facility will allow them to add new practice groups and new practice times.
“We are anticipating more than 1000 swimmers on the TAC TITANS for the upcoming 2022-2023 season,” Frank said, adding that the facility expects to add about 10% more events next season, bringing the facility close to 100 events annually.
Frank does not anticipate using the new pool to host meets, as it was built for training and programming, but that it will be used as warmup/cooldown space for some large meets in the spring, summer, and fall.
The facility, operated as a not-for-profit, opened in 2002. The new outdoor pool is a fourth tank in the facility, joining the indoor 50-meter competition pool, a 25-yard/10-lane program pool, and a walk-in instructional pool.
The main indoor pool includes spectator seating for up to 1000 people off-deck, with room for an additional 800 swimmers, coaches, and staff on deck.
The pool is home to a number of elite national and international-swimmers. That includes Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist Claire Curzan, and Tokyo 2020 Paralympians Hannah Aspden and Morgan Stickney, who each won two gold medals. Ashley Twichell, a two-time World Champion and Tokyo 2020 Olympian in open water, also trained there until her retirement.
London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue is also on the Titan’s coaching staff under Bruce Marchionda, who has put swimmers on two of the last three U.S. Olympic Teams.
Several LSC and national age group records have been set in the facility, as has one current American and US Open Record. Regan Smith, while she was training with the Riptide in Minnesota, attended the Cary Sectionals meet at TAC in March 2019. There, she swam 1:47.16 in the 200-yard backstroke, which remains the fastest-ever time in that event.
The grand opening event will be held at 3:00 PM on Monday and will be attended by the mayor of Cary, Harold Weinbrecht.
Cary, located near the state’s “triangle area” that centers around Raleigh, has a population of about 175,000. While a site of growing importance in swimming, the city is already a centerpoint of soccer in the United States, especially amateur soccer. Centered around the presence of the nearby superpower soccer programs at the University of North Carolina, WakeMed Soccer Park has a 10,000 seat stadium that is home to two professional soccer clubs and that has hosted the NCAA Championships 13 times in the 2000s.