Football stadium transforms into massive pool complex for Olympic trials

Katie Ledecky swimming

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium typically plays host to the Colts, but on June 15, a different type of athlete will be hitting what would typically be the red zone.

A massive swimming pool complex has been set up on the field to host the U.S. Olympic Trials, The Associated Press reported.

“The emerald-green turf is now diamond-blue water, and if you’ve been here before, it looks a little different,” Lucas Oil Stadium director Eric Neuburger said. “One of the magical things about Lucas Oil Stadium is the way it can be transformed to the host the world’s most important, coolest and biggest events no matter what field of play is called for.”

And when we say massive, we mean it.

The AP reported the stadium is temporarily the home of not one but two 1-million-gallon swimming pools. Sporting News said there is also a third pool in the stadium. It will be the first time a football stadium has hosted a major swimming competition.

The pools were built above ground but have a deck surrounding them so they look like they were dug into the field. The water will come from the White River, cleaned and chlorinated in tanks before being filtered into the pools, according to Sporting News.

“What you’re going to see if you get to walk around and go behind that curtain is the largest warmup pool ever built for any competition anywhere in the world, 10 50-meter lanes and seven 25-meter lanes,” USA Swimming president and CEO Tim Hinchey III said earlier this month.

Organizers had hoped to set an attendance record for an indoor meet on Saturday, with full capacity previously at 30,000, the AP reported. Typically, the stadium holds 70,000, though the competition pool covers half the stadium field.

But advanced ticket sales haven’t been as in-demand as predicted, so the target has been revised downward to 16,000 attendees. That is still more than normally attend, USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey III told The Indianapolis Star.

The front row will be reserved for coaches and athletes, allowing them to watch the races up close.

The Olympic Trials will be a nine-night event with prime-time network viewing.

The pools aren’t the only feature of the trials. Organizers are bringing a bit of Paris to the middle of Indianapolis.

There will be a lighted 66-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower.

This isn’t the first time Indianapolis has hosted the trials. The last meet was held back in 1924 before that year’s Paris Games, Sporting News reported. The trials were also held at the Indiana University Natatorium in 2000.

The move to Lucas Oil Stadium was made because, according to Sports Illustrated, the trials have outgrown the normal venues.

The Paris Olympics start on July 26 and go until Aug. 11.

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