Abundant natural light, views to surrounding park areas and state-of-the-art, eco-friendly, energy-saving technology combine with a “fast” pool to make the RecPlex Aqua Arena a new benchmark for community aquatics facilities.
This 10-lane-by-50-meter competition pool has become
Wisconsin’s premier destination for fitness, training, and
competitive swimming events. Its holds nearly 600 spectators and
hundreds of participants and the double bulkhead configuration
offers maximum flexibility. The venue can accommodate events large
and small as well as classes and open swimming simultaneously.
Except during long course events, one side of the pool can be set
up for competitions while facility members can still swim at the
In lieu of the typical shallow end, this pool features a shallow
middle, providing for competitive start depths of 2 meters or
greater, and deep underwater kicking at both ends of the
pool. A 12-foot depth at the pool’s east end provides
the option to add diving boards in the future.
In addition to design flexibility, another community priority for
the project was a commitment to environmental sustainability. The
facility is on track to receive LEED Silver Certification, and has
been awarded an incentive grant in excess of $50,000 by
Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program in recognition of its
energy saving accomplishments.
Economical building materials such as precast concrete wall panels
and floor planks, and standard steel roof joists, provided savings
allowing for more efficient pool and mechanical systems. The most
innovative energy-saving feature, a lake loop geothermal system,
features nearly 12 miles of coiled tubing, submerged to the bottom
of the adjacent lake, which heat and cool the building, pool and
domestic hot water. This, along with increased wall and roof
insulation, triple pane glazing, energy efficient lighting, and an
energy recovery system, allow the building to achieve a nearly 50
percent yearly energy savings versus the same building constructed
to a building code minimum baseline.
Other sustainable building practices including significant use of
local and recycled materials, daylighting strategies and low VOC
Swimmers, coaches and event managers from across the country have
repeatedly raved about the indoor air quality of this facility.
Effective air distribution, generous air changes, and high
performance air filtration, combined with the performance of the
pool’s ultraviolet water treatment system, produce an
environment with virtually no chloramine odors, even after a large
Also contributing to the comfortable indoor environment is its
abundant natural light. Translucent wall panels along the
mezzanine’s south wall are protected from glare by a large
overhang, which diminishes solar heat gain in summer and provides a
soft filtered light to its interior spaces. With spectator views
directed northward, architects were able to locate floor to roof
glazing at the pool’s northeast and northwest corners,
allowing indirect northern light and providing views to adjacent
lake and park areas. This natural light and views provides a
welcome alternative to the dark, windowless spaces of many
Locker rooms, public toilets, offices and storage rooms are all
located at deck level under the spectator seating areas. Mechanical
spaces are located at each end of the mezzanine, with the pool
equipment room at the west end of the first floor. Locating its
check-in desk adjacent to the entrance allows this facility to be
operated with as little as one staff person plus life guards.
The site’s granular soils and lake front location provided
many challenges for the project’s architects, aquatic
designers, engineers and contractors. Constructing the pool’s
deep end to 12 feet, proved difficult with a groundwater elevation
less than 5 feet below its deck level. Five dewatering wells pumped
nearly 1,400 gallons per minute from initial excavation, until the
pool vessel was complete. Extra concrete in the pool’s shell
provides ample ballast to counteract the buoyancy effects of the
A fast, flexible and efficient pool design combined with a bright
environment with beautiful views and outstanding air quality,
operating at half the energy cost of a conventional structure,
means that the RecPlex Aqua Arena is destined to become a popular
venue for Midwest swimming events.
If the success of a venue can be measured in the number of events
its has booked, then at six months following its grand opening, the
RecPlex Aqua Arena has far surpassed it projected six regional
events per year, with bookings for four state championship meets
(Wisconsin and Illinois), one zone meet, one sprint meet, twelve
regional meets, plus no less than one meet per weekend for the
remainder of the year. It is also under consideration as a
site for the Junior Olympic Prequalification Meet.
NUTS & BOLTS
Cost: $10.3 million
Aquatic space: 42,000 square feet
Dream amenities: A 10-lane-by-50-meter competition pool
with two floating bulkheads and spectator seating for more than 600.
- Dream Designer: Partners in Design Architects Inc.
- Architect: Partners in Design Architects Inc.
- Aquatic Designer: Counsilman-Hunsaker
- Mechanical, Electrical & Structural Engineer: Arnold & O’Sheridan Inc.
- Landscape Architecture: Heller & Associates
- Civil Engineer: Nielsen Madsen & Barber S.C.
- American Olean: Flooring
- AnnexAir: Dehumidifiers
- Aqua Products: Cleaners/vacuums
- Arch Chemicals/Pulsar: Chlorine
- Aurora Pumps: Pumps
- Chemtrol: Chemical control systems
- Colorado Time Systems: Timing
- Competitor Swim Products: Lane markers
- Engineered Treatment Systems: UV Treatment
- H H Systems: Heaters
- Neptune-Benson: Filters
- Precision Fibre Structures: Bulkheads
- Scranton Products: Lockers
- Spectrum Products: Pool lift, ladders, grab bars
- S.R. Smith: Starting blocks
- Winona Lighting: Lighting