Swiming Pool

How Many Gallons Are In Olympic Swimming Pools

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Did you know that swimming has been a part of the modern Olympics since the first competition in 1896? Since then, only four of the original sports—athletics, fencing, artistic gymnastics, and, you guessed it—swimming—have persisted to the games we see today.

Modern Olympic-sized swimming pools must meet a rigid set of specifications in order to be approved by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation). 50 meters long, 25 meters wide, and at least 2 meters deep are the specifications for an Olympic swimming pool. This translates to 2,500,000 liters of water, which is equal to 660,430 US liquid gallons.

How Many Gallons Are In Olympic Swimming Pools

Many of us have been in awe of Team USA’s Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky’s swimming dominance during the 2016 Olympics in Rio this Summer. Their combined total of nine gold and two silver medals is an incredible accomplishment. But as I was watching, I became aware of how little I actually knew about the pools they were competing in.

As it turns out, Olympic swimming pools have some pretty specific measurements. They measure 50 meters in length, 25 meters in width, and two meters in depth. In terms of volume, when full, these pools hold 2.5 million liters of water or about 660,000 gallons. These pools would require roughly 19 days to fill if you used a standard garden hose to fill them.

We do a lot of research on rivers and their flow rates, so I was interested in how the Savannah River’s flow rate compared. The Savannah River is currently flowing at a rate of 4,130 cubic feet per second, or roughly 31,000 gallons per second, as I write this. In only 21 seconds, that amount of water could fill an Olympic-sized pool. In fact, the Savannah River could fill 172 of these pools in a single day if it continued to flow at this rate. When placed end to end, that many pools would span more than five miles and cover an area equivalent to 40 football fields.

Are 50-meter Olympic Swimming Pools A Constant?

Olympic swimming has a long history, and in the very first modern Olympics in 1896, the Mediterranean Sea served as the venue for the open-water competitions. The Olympics didn’t get their first pool until 1908, however. The 100-meter swimming pool that was constructed by the London Olympics organizers was placed directly in the center of the athletics running track.

The first pool, which was 50 meters long and 25 meters wide, was used at the 1924 Paris Olympics, setting the precedent for what we see today.

10. How Many Gallons Are In Olympic Swimming Pools2

An Olympic Pool’s Depth Is.

While there are many 50-meter swimming pools available, FINA says that there are other factors to take into account when determining what qualifies as an official Olympic pool. Depth is one of those additional qualities. Olympic pools must be at least 2 meters deep because doing so lessens water disturbance that might harm swimmers.

There is a lot of energy being transferred into the water as all of the swimmers dive into the pool and start swimming as hard as they can. The athletes would be disturbed if the pool was too shallow because the energy would bounce off the bottom. In fact, the pool in Tokyo 2020 was designed with this in mind, and at 3 meters deep, it is 50% deeper than the FINA minimum requirement.

How Cold Are The Olympic Pools?

Given its size, you might assume that an Olympic swimming pool would be chilly, but FINA has strict guidelines regarding the water’s temperature. All Olympic swimming pools must be between the ranges of 25 and 28 degrees Celsius. This is because performance can be significantly impacted by temperature.

With temperatures in August ranging from 13.1°C to 19.8°C, Helsinki hosted the Olympic games in 1952, which had a significant impact on swimmers. It makes sense that water temperatures should be comparable for all competitions given that Olympic records should be directly comparable from year to year.

How Many Lanes Does An Olympic Pool Have?

Each lane in all Olympic swimming pools must now be at least 2.5 meters wide, with the outer two lanes remaining empty to serve as a buffer. This makes sure that the swimmers in lanes 1 and 8 are not negatively impacted by the waves that the competitors’ races create as they bounce off the pool’s sides.

Two empty lanes can be seen on either side of the pool during an Olympic swimming competition. This is a FINA requirement, not because competitors have not shown up.

Final Thoughts

Since the days when the Olympic swimming competitions were held in rivers and seas, a lot has changed. Olympic pool regulations now cover length, depth, lane count, and even the permitted amount of light.

All of this is done to ensure that each race is as fair as possible and to allow records to be fairly compared to earlier seasons.

If you ever have the good fortune to train in an actual Olympic pool, you’ll know that you can fairly compare your times to those of the greatest swimmers who have come before you.