Swimming pool accessories are absolutely vital for any venue that is hosting a competition. This article describes some of the main accessories that are required in a pool for it to comply with the World Aquatics competition regulations (former FINA Facilities Rules). These accessories also ensure a great experience for competitors, officials, and spectators, as well as helping the staff to maintain the facility.
In this article, we introduce the 4 main categories of swimming pool accessories: marking elements, functional elements, timing elements, and multifunctional elements.
The first category of accessories is marking elements. These accessories demarcate the swimming pool lanes and provide visual information to swimmers. This will help your competition to run smoothly and, hopefully, the swimmers to set new records.
This category contains, in turn, 4 marking elements that are explained below.
Competition lane ropes
Specially created for competition events, these ropes are designed to absorb the waves that a swimmer causes while swimming. The floats on the ropes have an outer diameter of 148 mm in line with World Aquatics regulations and the FR 3 swimming pools for the Olympic Games or World Championships regulations. The lane ropes are supplied with floats, stainless steel cord of 6 mm (28808) and hook (00207).The ropes are also provided in green, blue, and yellow colors for specific lanes, as required by World Aquatics federation.
These lane ropes help to create the perfect conditions for practicing and also for competitions, giving swimmers the best chance possible to set new national, world, or Olympic records.
Backstore turn indicators
When swimming backstroke, swimmers must be notified when they are approaching the end of the pool, to assist them with turning or stopping. For this purpose, posts and flags are installed at predetermined positions around the pool.
Backstroke turn indicator posts should be installed 5 m from each end of the pool, and backstroke flags should be 1.8–2.5 m above the water. This will ensure compliance with World Aquatics regulations. The posts slide into core-drilled sockets that are glued into the concourse/coping.
False start signage
A false start rope or recall spans the width of the swimming pool to alert and stop swimmers in the event of a false start or any other inconvenience that could interfere with the competition. As required by World Aquatics, the use of this accessory ensures that the swimmers’ energy is not wasted, and the race can then be restarted as quickly as possible. False start rope may be suspended across the pool not less than 1.2 meters above the water lever from fixed standards placed 15.0 meters in front of the starting end. It shall be attached to the standards by a quick release mechanism. The rope must effectively cover all lanes when activated.
Stowable storage reels
The stowable storage reels are usually placed under the podium platforms, and serve as anchor points for the lane ropes. The reels also channel the ropes into the engine room, where they can be stored in the lane rope storage trolley.
The second category is the functional elements. Their purpose is to enhance the swimming experience for competitors in particular and help them to perform to the very best of their ability. This category contains, in turn, 3 elements.
Starting block platform
The brand AstralPool has created a platform made from an AISI-304 stainless steel structure and plastic grating. On this platform, the starting blocks can easily be attached. Moreover, it can be used as a turning panel and has fastening points for lane ropes. This platform guarantees better and more comfortable access to the podium.
The BCN starting block is specially designed for competition events, and it also has a 6-position, adjustable footrest to facilitate entry into the water. Made of AISI-316 stainless steel and with a polished finish, the minimalist and high-quality design has a modern, elegant look.
According to World Aquatics competition regulations, the flat part of the podium must be 70 cm above the ground. To meet this requirement, a podium of this height or a starting block platform can be used.
In addition, a backstroke starting system can be integrated into the starting podium itself. Designed to make backstroke starts faster and reduce the possibility of slipping. In accordance with World Aquatics (former FINA) standards, the ledge is adjustable in different positions.
The portable swivel panel is designed to maximize lane use and ensure a more comfortable turn for swimmers. The panel is suspended between two lane ropes. This accessory can be used where a starting block platform is not installed.
Timing elements are the third category. These elements should be accurate and are one of the most essential elements for competitive swimming.The timing system will give you confidence when recording the results of a race, so that the true outcome is always reported. Several different timing system components are available, including:
- A semi-automatic wired/wireless timing network, which is activated by a manual push button. This is a low-priced option for immediate results and rankings at the finish line, and it can also be connected to display boards.
- A fully automatic timing system, with an integrated touchpad. Also, three manual push buttons can be connected in each lane along with a sensor for monitoring relays.
- Anti-slip touchpads for use with the timing system, to ensure accurate and reliable results are recorded by competitors. The touchpads are sensitive all across their surface, which ensures activation wherever they are pressed.
- Starting blocks with integrated false-start detection. Data can also be obtained for relay exchange time, block-off times, and reaction times.
- A large variety of display boards, from simple 7-segment numerical boards to video walls.
In addition, for open water competitions, small touchpads and a high-resolution camera system will efficiently and accurately monitor the finish line. For diving and synchronized swimming competitions, each judge can be given an input terminal, which is wirelessly connected to the timing network and the evaluation PC. Finally, different shot clocks for water polo are also available, for use indoors or outdoors.
The fourth and last elements are multifunctional. These accessories are used to create a more versatile pool for a wide range of uses. This will ensure that facilities are used to their full potential in the legacy phase and as a result revenue is maximized. There are 2 different multifunctional elements as described below.
The movable platform and floor technology developed by Fluidra multiplies the pool’s possibilities, dividing it into different spaces, lengths, and depths. This increases the profitability of the available space and saves on the construction costs involved in building different aquatic facilities. Fluidra’s bulkheads are also designed to be fully compliant with World Aquatics regulations.
The vertical underwater structure moves lengthwise across the pool floor to form a physical barrier and make the most of the space, as it divides the pool into separate areas for different uses. The framework of the movable wall is made from stainless steel and ABS slats, and it rests on rails fitted on adjacent decking. It moves by means of two mechanical flywheels, which can be automated as an added extra.
By using a movable bulkhead, a pool can be turned into a multipurpose facility that adapts to different public uses and can be divided into independent work areas. The bulkhead can be moved manually or automatically, and it enables the facility to be financially more profitable, as it enables various activities to be run at the same time in a single pool. The movable bulkhead is an ideal solution for sports clubs and competition events to achieve a more efficient use of aquatic facilities during the legacy phase.
The Dual Fix Movable Bulkhead is the most versatile mobile platform, and is ideal for competition pools and sports clubs. This state-of-the-art pool accessory allows the main pool to be divided into different spaces for simultaneous use. For example, an Olympic-sized pool can be divided into two half-sized pools of 25 m. Another option is to divide the pool into four 25 m pools, with one at each corner, while keeping Olympic-sized training lanes in the center. In this way, it is possible to create up to five separate pools in one single Olympic-sized pool.
The installation of AstralPool’s movable floor makes it possible to use one single pool to simultaneously host several activities that require different depths of water. For example, the legacy phase allows one section of the pool to be used as a lap pool, while using the other for leisure activities, rehabilitation exercises or aquagym.
The system is based on a mobile platform submerged in the water that changes the height of the pool shell. This enables a number of areas with varying depths to be created, according to needs. In addition, the movable pool floor can be used to partially reduce the depth of the pool, for greater energy savings and safety. If needed, the floor can even be moved right up to the surface of the water, in which case it will effectively act as a cover.
The swimming pool accessories described above will greatly improve your aquatic facility and ensure the best possible experience for everyone involved. These accessories will also help to generate the maximum revenue possible from a venue and ensure that it remains profitable in the long term.