A deep dive into the renovations of Hixon Natatorium


For years, swimmers in the William H. Bell Athletic Center pool have scraped their backs against the bottom of the pool since its maximum depth is only four feet and nine inches. To the delight of the swimming and diving teams, the pool will receive multiple upgrades, including an increase in depth of one foot all around.

In the budget for the renovation of the Bell Center, Trinity allotted money to upgrade the pools.

“It has been in the capital improvement plan for a couple of years now,” said Scott Trompeter, Trinity’s head swimming coach. “The construction team, along with the group in charge of the Bell Center — Bob King, Jim Baker, Seth Asbury and Ernesto Gonzales, to name a few — were prudent and were able to complete the renovation with the amount of money left to help us complete this job for the indoor pool.”

The old indoor pool had multiple problems that wreaked havoc on swimmers.

“When we would flip, we would actually skin our backs on the floor because you have to get under the wake in order to be efficient [at turning],” said Jacob Hurrell-Zitelman, junior co-captain of the swimming team and who specializes in long-distance freestyle events. “Even on the deep end, it only got up to maybe five feet maximum, so you would hit your head when you were going down off the [starting] blocks.”

(Hurrell-Zitelman is an account executive for the Trinitonian.)

The condition of the starting blocks had begun to deteriorate as well.

“We had cracked holes in [them] from pushing off too hard,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “[Getting] new blocks is a necessity as we kinda progress in our development as a team. We are getting a lot better, and we are racing a lot better teams, so it is a need for us to have a better facility.”

Due in part to Trompeter, who is going into his second year as head coach, the pool will receive an upgrade that should make the pool faster.

“I think with Scott Trompeter becoming the new head coach, he took it upon himself to create more of a focus on the facilities,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “He has a vision for the team that requires better facilities, and with that, we need to be able to train at maximum capacity and also race at maximum capacity.” To make the pool faster, Trinity will change the design of the gutters.

“The gutters that the water drains into will now be ‘rim flow gutters.’ This is the term used when the water level is even with the deck,” Trompeter said. “The increased depth and flow of water over the side gutters will help to decrease water turbulence which allows for faster swimming. The contrast to that is when water crashes into the wall and bounces back at you when you are swimming, it will slow you down by a pretty sizable margin.”

The faster pool will allow for Trinity to match NCAA qualifying times earlier in the season.

“To qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships, there is a time requirement and a place in the nation,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “Every race and every meet is an opportunity to make that cut for the NCAA Division III Championships, and if we have a faster pool, we could have even more opportunities, as opposed to waiting until [conference] championship season in order to qualify.”

Trinity plans to upgrade the diving pool with the addition of a few new diving boards.

“Previously we had two one-meter boards and one three-meter board,” said Bella Peters, a sophomore diver. “We are getting a second three-meter board and a two-meter board. With the additional three-meter board, we can practice synchronized diving, not just at one-meter but also at three-meter.”

Only a few facilities in the country have a two-meter diving board, considering collegiate programs only compete at the one-meter and three-meter height.

“Having a two-meter board will allow us to prepare for harder dives by having a middling height. Sometimes three-meter is intimidating, so you need a shorter board for the dive,” Peters said. “Some dives that you learn for one-meter would be easier to learn at a greater height, but would be dangerous on a three-meter board. I’m excited for the two-meter and hoping maybe I can figure out how to fix a couple of my form problems.”

The construction crew estimates that the pool renovations will conclude by Oct. 1.

While the daily reports look promising for the pool to finish on time, some members of the swimming team are uncertain.

“I have seen a lot of pool projects, and they generally don’t finish on time,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “People don’t work on pools often, and renovation has all sort of issues that don’t arise until you get down in there.”

Since the swimming pools are out of commission until at least Oct. 1, the swimmers have had to hold their practice in the outdoor pool.

The outdoor pool is 50 meters long instead of the 25 yards long pool inside Hixon Natatorium.

“In collegiate swimming, you do only short course yards, so swimming long course meters actually provides us the opportunity to get more in shape. We also get to tan,” Hurrell-Zitelman said.

The outdoor pool may help increase the swimmers’ stamina, but it may throw a swimmer off his training pace.

“What you do in a training performance is really what you can do at a race,” Hurrell-Zitelman said. “When you’re not training at your max capacity, and you get to the meet and you think, ‘I can only hold this pace for this race. That’s all I can do, because that’s all I have been doing in training.’ But if you are in a faster facility, and you are training faster, [you think] ‘Oh, I can definitely do that,’ and it gives you more confidence going into championship season.”

The diving team doesn’t normally hold practices in the diving pool until a few weeks before the season starts. They mostly lift weights, practice their form entries in the outdoor pool, and perform other conditioning exercises. If the pool renovation doesn’t finish on time, some of the divers may not have the confidence they would like before the first meet of the season.

“I am a little concerned that if the pool isn’t done by Oct. 1, that a couple of my dives on three-meter will be iffy, but I’m sure the month of conditioning will help,” Peters said. “If worst comes to worst, there are other pools in the area and I’m sure our coach could figure out a way to get us on a diving board before our first meet.”

The swimming team will begin their season at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin Invitational, while the diving team will travel to Ohio to participate in the Ohio Diving Meet on Oct. 19.