Temporary Pools Arrive in Indy for World Championships

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., August 18. THE pieces of the pools for the 7th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) have arrived at an Indianapolis warehouse.

Next stop: Conseco Fieldhouse. Next steps: Assembling those pieces into two world-class swimming pools, filling them with 475,000 gallons of filtered, heated water, and doing it all in about 10 days.

Doing so will require burning the midnight oil. As well as the mid-day oil. Not to mention the sunrise oil and the sunset oil.

Starting at midnight, Sept. 22, and working around the clock, construction crews will swarm the floor of Conseco Fieldhouse like bees to a hive. There will be no let up. There will be no pause. All for a very simple reason: There will be no time.

Just 15 days after construction begins, the best swimmers in the world will dive into those pools in pursuit of gold medals and world records during the 7th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).

It will be the first time the World Championships have taken place in North America. And it is the first time the temporary pool technology has been compressed into such a tight time frame. The previous record for building such a pool was five weeks.

“There will be up to ten things going on at any one time,” says Mike Dilts, operations vice chair of the Organizing Committee for the World Championships, which take place Oct. 7-11 in Conseco Fieldhouse that is best known as the home of the NBA Indiana Pacers and WNBA Indiana Fever.

“It’s going to be the ultimate job for construction guys.”

That is why the office of Dilts, who is president of Indianapolis-based contractor Shiel Sexton, is littered with stacks of blueprints. While an Italian company, Myrtha, is supplying most of the pieces to the 25-meter competition and warmup pools for the Championships, it will be the task of Dilts and his small army of workers to turn those pieces into a finished product in time for the world’s best swimmers to display their skills.

In that respect, the construction workers and the swimmers will have one thing in common: racing against time.

And just as with the swimmers, preparation will be the key for Dilts, Conseco Fieldhouse Vice President of Operations Tom Rutledge and other contractors and subcontractors charged with turning the Fieldhouse into the world’s largest natatorium.

Literally years of meticulous planning will be condensed into roughly 10 days of execution. By that time, the pools will be built and filled, and all the necessary equipment for a World Championships meet installed, right down to the last lane line.

“It’s all about wanting these pools to look like they were built for the Fieldhouse originally,” says John Dierdorf of the Indianapolis-based architectural firm of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf. “Sure, we all know they are temporary pools, but they need to look like they are permanent. And so they have to be built the right way.”

The framework and the vinyl membranes for the pools – “the tubs,” as Dilts calls them – are expected to arrive in Indianapolis in late July. They consist of 182 stainless steel panels and 15,000 square feet of vinyl. They will remain in storage until mid-September when, piece by piece, they will be taken to Conseco Fieldhouse in preparation for the start of construction.

In August, 38 precast concrete forms, each weighing 13,000 pounds, will be poured. They will serve as the foundations to which the pools’ framework will be attached.

Work on the “filter farm” in an exterior hallway of Conseco Fieldhouse is expected to begin around Sept. 1. Eventually, Dilts expects more than 600 meters of piping will be required for the filtration system.

Construction will not begin immediately at midnight on Sept. 22, Dilts says. That’s because the first 16 hours will be devoted to “staging,” which means putting all the pieces in the proper arrangement so that construction can proceed in an orderly fashion.

Essentially, Dilts says, the construction crews will “paint their way out of the Fieldhouse,” moving from the south to the north ends. As the pools are constructed another local contractor, Jack K. Elrod Company, will begin building the decking. And as the decking is completed, the installation of accessories – television equipment, timing and scoring, the starting blocks – will commence.

Oh, and then there’s the water. Dilts expects the pools can begin to be filled on or about Saturday, Sept. 25. The Indianapolis Fire Department will assist in the filling of the pools. The water will flow through the filtration heating system, into the surge tanks, then into the pools. Barring unforeseen problems, by sometime Sunday, Sept. 26, the pools should be filled.

On the other end, after the championships are over, “the teardown begins as soon as they turn down the lights and say thanks for coming,” Dilts says.

The water will have all chemicals removed before it is backwashed out into the Indianapolis sewer system. Dilts estimates 6 to 8 hours will be needed to empty the pools, at which time they can be disassembled. The parts of the pools will be placed back into their shipping crates. The pools will be sold and installed later in a permanent location.

In terms of construction, “We’ve done things that are more complex, but the timing of this makes it so critical,” Dilts says. “The last thing I want to have to do is explain to Ian Thorpe and the Aussies that we’re going to have our first couple of races at the IU Natatorium.”

Dilts says when all is done, he will be most proud of the fact that other than the building of the pools by Myrtha, virtually all other architectural and construction facets will have been handled by Indianapolis firms.

“This will be,” he says, “a nice collaboration of local talent pulling this off.”

What: 2004 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)
When: October 7-11, 2004
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Who: Already committed to the event are Olympians Lindsay Benko (USA), Natalie Coughlin (USA), Ian Crocker (USA), Brendan Hansen (USA), Yana Klochkova (UKR), Martina Moravcova (SKV), Aaron Peirsol (USA), Michael Phelps (USA) and Jenny Thompson (USA).

Ticket Information: (317) 239-5151 or www.worldswim2004.com. Single-Session Tickets will be on sale Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. EST for $48-$10.

Single-Day Tickets are on sale for $60-$25. All-Session Tickets are $300-$250.

Group Packages: Contact Justin Hirnisey at Indiana Sports Corporation at (800) HI-FIVES, (317) 237-5000 or tickets@worldswim2004.com.

Hotel Accommodations: (317) 684-2573 or www.worldswim2004.com.

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