Athletics

Olympic-sized pool among new athletics facilities projects

May 31, 2016
  • An inside view of the forthcoming LU Natatorium from the perspective of the 10-meter diving platform overlooking the 17-foot-deep diving well and the 50-meter Olympic-distance long-course pool.
    An inside view of the forthcoming LU Natatorium from the perspective of the 10-meter diving platform overlooking the 17-foot-deep diving well and the 50-meter Olympic-distance long-course pool.
  • A separate 17-foot-deep diving well will feature one- and three-meter springboards as well as a full tower with 1-, 3-, 5-, 7.5-, and 10-meter platforms.
    A separate 17-foot-deep diving well will feature one- and three-meter springboards as well as a full tower with 1-, 3-, 5-, 7.5-, and 10-meter platforms.
  • Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
    Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
  • Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
    Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
  • Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
    Liberty's forthcoming natatorium will be connected to the new indoor track & field facility at the base of Liberty Mountain.
  • The eight-lane, 50-meter pool with a consistent depth of nine feet will have the capability of being divided into 20 lanes of 25 yards in length for short-course practice.
    The eight-lane, 50-meter pool with a consistent depth of nine feet will have the capability of being divided into 20 lanes of 25 yards in length for short-course practice.

Olympic-sized pool will complement new indoor track facility

A state-of-the-art natatorium — connected to the new indoor track complex currently under construction on Liberty Mountain — will elevate Liberty University’s NCAA Division I women’s swimming & diving team and Club Sports program, while also attracting students and community members of all ages.

“It will be one of the top swimming facilities on the entire East Coast,” said Lee Beaumont, Liberty’s senior vice president for Auxiliary Services.

The natatorium is expected to be completed by July 2017, in time to host the Commonwealth Games’ long-course swim meet.

Located beneath the LU monogram at the base of the mountain, the facility will feature an eight-lane, 50-meter pool with a bulkhead and a separate 17-foot-deep diving well with a full tower that includes 1- and 3-meter springboards and 1-, 3-, 5-, 7.5-, and 10-meter platforms.

Like the adjacent track, it will be equipped to host regional, state, and even national meets for high school, collegiate, YMCA, and USA Swimming programs, as well as offer training opportunities for professional athletes.

“This will be a fast pool,” Beaumont said. “There are fast tracks for running, and there are fast pools for swimming. The fast pool is due to all of the physics involved,” he explained. The consistent depth (9 feet) reduces turbulence underwater while an overflow gutter system drains, rather than rebounds, waves off the pool’s edges. The state-of-the-art lane dividers spin to dissipate energy created by swimmers. With the pool and diving well separate, he said, they will each be maintained at optimum temperatures. “Divers like the water a little warmer than swimmers.”

At 75,000 square feet, the natatorium will be much larger than the current LaHaye Aquatics Center pool, which will continue to be used for recreational purposes.

The new building will feature a barreled roof and plenty of glass to allow for natural lighting. It will have a seating capacity of 1,300, with 900 permanent seats in wraparound stands located along the 25-yard portion of the pool where collegiate competitions will take place — a unique feature for a swimming venue. There will also be room for an additional 400 spectators and competitors in bleachers on deck.

“It’s going to be an impressive facility,” said Jake Shellenberger, head coach of Liberty’s NCAA Division I women’s swimming & diving program. “When you have a bowl seating configuration, it can make 900 people sound like 4,000.”

The facility will have multiple uses. Liberty’s Student Activities and Intramural Sports programs will be able to host events there, and students taking kinesiology classes in swimming will be able to walk from the pool to a “wet classroom” with drains in the floor. The pool will also be available to outside organizations, from high school to community club programs, giving youth- to masters-level swimmers a chance to train, compete, and play in the new facility. It will also be used for Learn to Swim classes and training in scuba diving, lifeguard skills, and first responder water rescue.

At the NCAA level, Shellenberger said the natatorium will allow him to recruit more swimmers and divers with Olympic potential.

“When you have a high school athlete who has Olympic dreams, they want and need to train in the Olympic long-course 50-meter format,” he said.

Over the past seven seasons, Shellenberger has handled hundreds of inquiries from prospective men’s swimmers wondering why Liberty doesn’t offer a men’s team. This facility will allow for the addition of two new Club Sports — men’s swimming in 2017 and men’s water polo in 2018.

“I foresee men turning down scholarship offers from NCAA Division I programs to swim for the club team here,” Shellenberger said. “They’re going to have their own locker room, their own team room; they’re going to have a nicer facility than men who swim at some Division I institutions.”

The 25-yard wide pool can be divided into 20 lanes for short-course training, with an additional six lanes in the diving well, allowing teams to practice concurrently. With its proximity to the track, it will be able to host indoor triathlons as well.

The entire natatorium and indoor track complex will share a 6,554-square-foot weight room and a 2,400-square-foot training room that includes a 1,000-square-foot hydro room with two plunge pools kept at 57 degrees.

There will also be a media station wired for live broadcasts of meets and a juice bar/smoothie station to provide student-athletes with protein shakes.


Construction is progressing on four new building projects that will enhance Liberty’s Athletics and Club Sports programs.

Indoor Track

Steel and concrete work are ongoing at Liberty's new indoor track & field center.

Steel and concrete work are ongoing at Liberty’s new indoor track & field center. Expected to open in January 2017, the 169,000-square-foot facility will feature a hydraulically banked 200-meter oval track, making it a premier location to host age group, high school, collegiate, and even professional indoor competitions.

Football indoor practice facility

Site work for the 95,000-square-foot domed football indoor practice facility.

Site work began in April on the 95,000-square-foot domed practice facility, located in front of the Williams Football Operations Center at Williams Stadium. The facility will replace the team’s grass practice field. When its doors open in May 2017, Flames Football and other athletics teams will be able to hold practice, regardless of the weather, on a turf field covered by a curved roof with 70 feet of clearance.

Academic and Performance Center

Liberty's forthcoming Academic and Performance Center is being built into the existing hillside between the Liberty Baseball Stadium and Osborne Stadium.

Currently under construction between the Liberty Baseball Stadium and Osborne Stadium, the terraced, 3-story, 60,000-square-foot APC is being built into the existing hillside, its architecture curving along the bank of the Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex. Scheduled to open in August 2017, approximately one-third of the space will be used for academic offices, tutoring centers, and study halls. It will also feature an Olympic sport weight room and space for short- and long-term rehabilitation of NCAA Division I student-athletes.

Equestrian Center

Construction of a steel arena at Liberty's Equestrian Center.

Additions to the Liberty University Equestrian Center, due to be completed in late June or early July, will turn it into one of the largest venues of its kind in Virginia. Construction of a steel arena to cover the 120-foot by 300-foot riding ring started in April. Simultaneously, the outdoor ring is being expanded to the same dimensions and a second wooden barn — nearly identical to the one located on the opposite side of the indoor arena — is being constructed, doubling the total number of stalls to 80.

Located on nearly 400 acres on Liberty Mountain, the facility has the most acreage of any college equestrian program in the state. It will also have the state’s second largest collegiate indoor arena.

The indoor and outdoor rings will be completed in time for Liberty to host the July 30-31 riding events in the 2016 Virginia Commonwealth Games.

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