The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, NC, already a focal point of the state’s strong swimming industry, is getting a little bigger. On Monday, the center will open a new 50-meter outdoor pool, which will be the first outdoor pool of this size built in eastern North Carolina since 1981.
This gives the facility 9 new 50-yard lanes or 20 new 25-yard lanes, depending on the configuration of the pool. The pool also includes heating and cooling technology, allowing swimmers to train outdoors all year round.
“This new 50 meter pool and supporting amenities demonstrate our continued commitment to growing health, safety and swimming in the Triangle community,” said TAC Founder Michael Curran. “TAC now provides our community with four pools totaling 1.75 million gallons of water and fifty-five lap lanes on a 21.5 acre aquatic campus at a cost of $32.5 million.”
The pool also includes built-in canopies for coaches and athletes.
The new pool cost $5.5 million, and like most pool costs, it was funded and paid for by the operational success of the facility’s programs.
Mark Crank, the center’s operations manager, said there were many reasons to add water to the center.
“The programming at TAC had almost completely filled the existing water availability, especially during prime time,” Frank said. “Programming includes events, our TAC TITANS, Learn-to-Swim, Certifications, Fitness, Open Swim Lanes and Community Rentals.
“From a community perspective, we needed to increase the capacity of our center, which will allow everyone to schedule additional space.”
Frank says the TAC Titans, a No. 1-ranked club in the nation in USA Swimming’s Club Excellence program for 2021, also have long waiting lists. The new facility will allow them to add new practice groups and new practice schedules.
“We anticipate over 1,000 swimmers on the TAC TITANS for the upcoming 2022-2023 season,” Frank said, adding that the facility plans to add approximately 10% more events next season, which will bring the facility at nearly 100 events per year.
Frank does not plan to use the new pool to hold competitions, as it was built for training and programming, but will be used as a warm-up/cool-down space for some major competitions in the spring, summer and in autumn.
The facility, operated as a non-profit organization, opened in 2002. The new outdoor pool is a fourth tank in the facility, joining the 50-meter indoor competition pool, a 25-yard program pool /10 lanes and a walk-in educational pool.
The main indoor pool features spectator seating for up to 1,000 people off deck, with room for an additional 800 swimmers, coaches and staff on deck.
The pool is home to a number of elite national and international swimmers. This includes the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist Claire Curzanand the Tokyo 2020 Paralympians Hannah Aspden and Morgan Stickneywho each won two gold medals. Ashley Twicheltwo-time world champion and Tokyo 2020 Olympian in open water, also trained there until her retirement.
London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue is also part of the Titan coaching staff under Bruce Marchiondawhich has placed swimmers on each of the last three U.S. Olympic teams.
Several LSC and national age group records have been set at the facility, as has a US and current US record. Regan Smithwhile training with the Riptide in Minnesota, attended the Cary Sectionals meet at TAC in March 2019. There she swam 1:47.16 in the 200-yard backstroke, which remains the fastest time never recorded in this event.
The official opening event will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Monday and will be attended by the Mayor of Cary, Harold Weinbrecht.
Cary, located near the state’s “triangular area” around Raleigh, has a population of approximately 175,000. While a site of growing importance for swimming, the city is already a focal point for soccer in the United States, especially amateur soccer. Centered on the presence of superpower soccer programs near the University of North Carolina, WakeMed Soccer Park has a 10,000-seat stadium that is home to two professional soccer clubs and has hosted the NCAA championships 13 times in the 2000s.