Natatorium Rankings

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Natatorium Rankings

Postby Old Noodle » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:43 pm

Hey all, I thought it'd be neat to discuss which Natatoriums we think are the best. Here's my two cents on each, in no particular order, based on pool quality and aesthetics, obviously trying to eliminate bias for my Alma Mater:

Calvin: Clearly the best in the MIAA currently, change my mind. Separate pools for competition and to warm up in, and 50 m capabilities. Also, a plethora of seating. Spacious, aesthetically pleasing, probably the reason a lot of Calvin swimmers chose Calvin.

Albion: One thing Albion has going for their pool is the separate attached diving well. Especially with the non - sketchy underwater windows, which are neat (at many pools you feel like you're going to be murdered while looking out the underwater windows- @Kalamazoo). Unfortunately, Albion's pool is also something like 4 feet deep, max, in the competition pool. Also, there's a dropoff ledge going into the diving well, which I always find disconcerting. In my opinion, this takes what could be a great pool, and lowers it down in my overall rankings. Also, the bleachers aren't very aesthetically pleasing.

Alma: For a team that was on the brink of extinction a few years ago, this Natatorium is surprisingly not bad. For starters, this is in my opinion one of if not the most aesthetically pleasing pool in the MIAA, between the color scheme, the slight 2 foot overhang of the bleachers over the deck below, and the staircase leading from the bleachers to the pool deck. This staircase boosts Alma's pool doubly, because it is also a very convenient feature, and something that more pools should have. In addition, the Natatorium feels spacious, not like a cave, as many pools do. As for the pool itself, there is nothing remarkable about it, but also nothing wrong with it. It's a good depth and the chemicals are in balance from what I could tell. Some functionality negatives, they no longer have their underwater window, and there is no separate diving well. Also, the deck is mildly uneven and need to be redone, something not uncommon among older pools.

Olivet: Similar to Alma, this pool is surprisingly not bad as one would expect. Again similar to Alma, there is nothing inherently wrong with the pool. The chemicals are usually in balance (again, from what I could tell at meets- correct me if I'm wrong) and it is a healthy depth. Unfortunately, like Alma, there is no separate diving well. However, this honestly isn't a huge issue in my opinion. The main thing that Olivet has working against them is Aesthetics. While most pools have elevated bleachers, Olivet has a set of bleachers just sitting on the deck, and that's their seating. Two things on this: 1.) They're at the end of the pool, so you can't view the swimming from the traditional, and in my opinion, superior side angle view; 2.) Elevated bleachers really just look better. On top of that, Olivet's pool feels not like a cave, but certainly like a box. It's a very tall room, but everything is located at the ground level which subconsciously frustrates me. Overall, Olivet has a nice pool, but needs to work on its appearance.

Hope: This pool has the potential to have been a great pool, but kind of missed the mark to an extent. The pool has a mildly healthy depth, good chemical balance, and is mildly spacious. It also had a separate diving well (albeit with a dropoff similar to Albion). HOWEVER, that bonus is negated by the fact that for some reason, the pool was designed so that the diving well is part of the competition part of the pool, and so at every meet they have to move lane lines around, and diving can't happen concurrently. Anyone have any comments as to WHY the pool was designed that way or why it's used that way? Also, the pool deck itself isn't the greatest in terms of functionality and aesthetics. There are no bleachers for the teams to sit on, a problem that could be easily remedied, because there is easily space for some. As far as aesthetics, the color scheme is a nasty brownish color, which, although there are many windows, makes it feel kind of like a box (especially because the building looks like a box from the outside). Overall not a bad pool, and one that has an easily fixable issue.

Kalamazoo: I'm probably not alone in thinking that this pool is kind of trash. The chemicals are wonky, it leaks, and the bleachers are far too close to pool deck level. They're like those bleachers that can't decide if they're going to be elevated or deck level. They have an underwater window, which is a plus, but also if you go down there you're afraid the pool is going to cave in on you, or Freddie Kruger is going to appear from the dark and the pipes around you. The only reason I feel comfortable so openly trashing this pool is that there is going to be a new one soon, and good riddance to the old one. To Kalamazoo's credit, though, besides the water quality and the bleacher situation, the pool is actually a nice depth, and has nice windows leading to the outside, which makes it not a cave.

At the end of the day, almost all the pools are old, and could use some help, but are not bad pools and are 100% functional. It kind of sounds like I'm trashing all the pools, but I'm doing that simply for comparison reasons. A pool is a pool, and a pool SHOULD NOT in my humble opinion be a deciding factor for a prospective student.

Here's my final conclusions:

Pool Quality, best to worst:
1.) Calvin
2.) Hope
3.) Alma
4.) Olivet
5.) Albion
6.) Kalamazoo

Aesthetic Value, best to worst:
1.) Alma
2.) Calvin
3.) Hope
4.) Albion
5.) Kalamazoo
6.) Olivet

OVERALL RANKING, best to worst:
1.) Calvin
2.) Alma
3.) Hope
4.) Olivet
5.) Albion
6.) Kalamazoo


Let me know what you think! Also, let it be noted that these rankings were very close and hard to choose!
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby heisenberg » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:26 pm

Old Noodle wrote:Hope: This pool has the potential to have been a great pool, but kind of missed the mark to an extent. The pool has a mildly healthy depth, good chemical balance, and is mildly spacious. It also had a separate diving well (albeit with a dropoff similar to Albion). HOWEVER, that bonus is negated by the fact that for some reason, the pool was designed so that the diving well is part of the competition part of the pool, and so at every meet they have to move lane lines around, and diving can't happen concurrently. Anyone have any comments as to WHY the pool was designed that way or why it's used that way? Also, the pool deck itself isn't the greatest in terms of functionality and aesthetics. There are no bleachers for the teams to sit on, a problem that could be easily remedied, because there is easily space for some. As far as aesthetics, the color scheme is a nasty brownish color, which, although there are many windows, makes it feel kind of like a box (especially because the building looks like a box from the outside). Overall not a bad pool, and one that has an easily fixable issue.


When John Patnott built the Dow with his bare hands in the 70's I think they were expecting that the sport might convert to all Meters based competitions. Unfortunately it never went that way, so Hope swimmers and divers have to change the lane lines and flags etc. Although it does give the opportunity for both meters based and yards based training. The biggest downside for Hope is having the HAC right down the road. I'm sure that if the HAC were not there the popularity of West Michigan swimming would have easily propelled a new Hope pool. Until then, HMS and HWS have the pleasure of the brown Dow.

As for your other comments, I pretty much agree with everything. It is really crazy to see how much money Calvin pours into their athletics specifically their pool. They dominate and in my 4 years they only continued to improve while other facilities stood still (although in 2014 they were in $115 million of debt as an institution???). KZOO's pool is trash and its about time they got a new one, no one liked swimming in the dark. Olivet and Alma are very similar in styles of pools and while solid structures and aesthetically pleasing, like KZOO the three all lack one thing: the ability to cool down. This is where Calvin (obviously), Albion and Hope have the advantage. Albion's pool is nice but shallow. Everyone knows that you swim better in deep water (@ EMU @IUPUI to name a couple).

As for your comment on recruiting, I agree, a pool is a pool. The crappy, small, aged pools bring teams closer to each other. But, while we would all like to think and hope that a recruit wouldn't pick a school based on pool, we were all there at one time. As a senior in high school you love the flashiness, and the facilities DEFINITELY play a role in where you would pick. It shouldn't be like that, but unfortunately it is.

That being said I would put my overall picks at:
1. Calvin
2. Hope
3. Albion
4. Alma
5. Olivet
6. KZOO

No matter where you swim, you grow a love for your pool. It houses you for 4 years and you spend more time in that building than most other buildings on campus. It doesn't matter if it's the best or worst on paper, because it's best for you.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby SalParadise » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:59 pm

1) Calvin
2) Albion
3) Alma (which I like a little better than Albion's as far as seating and depth of the pool goes, except Albion has the separate diving well to put it into second)
4) Hope. I put Hope over Olivet because it has has way better crowd seating, and windows.
5) Olivet
6) Kzoo. That place is dark.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby Crash Bandicoot » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:23 am

Another factor to take into account for grading best pools is the locker room. These will all be from the men's perspective and I will grade the locker rooms based on the following factors:

Stalls
Showers
Changing Area
Cleanliness
Bonus Features
Overall


Calvin:
Stalls: A- plenty of stalls and TP is always filled
Showers: A many single showers with great temperature and pressure control. A few single, handicap showers with a curtain if you need to pop a squat and cry about how hard practice was or warm up for your 50 free
Changing Area: B+ spacious, nothing special though
Cleanliness: A-
Bonus Features: A Calvin team has own locker room with keypad lock, suit dryer, and family locker rooms for group suit changing sessions during taper meets
Overall: A-

Albion:
Stalls: B-
Showers: D+ when I was there, only temp was cold and one or two showers had decent pressure
Changing Area: C+ had to change in same area as Albion team lockers, not the worst though b/c they're a fun bunch
Cleanliness: C+
Bonus Features: B- Sometimes you can find a rubber duck from the "Duck Throw" fundraiser Albion does
Overall: C+

Alma:
Stalls: C+
Showers: N/A I don't think I ever showered here b/c I couldn't find it
Changing Area: B confusing locker room, seems like one big hallway with a bunch of smaller rooms, constant lost feeling
Cleanliness: B-
Bonus Features: B The pool is attached to a fairly nice athletic building, lots of opportunity to explore when you get to the meet early so divers can warm up first
Overall: B-

Olivet:
Stalls: C
Showers: N/A Again, I don't think I ever showered here
Changing Area: B you could blindfold me and take me into the locker room, and I wouldn't be able to guess if I was in Alma's or Olivet's locker room
Cleanliness: B-
Bonus Features: C honestly Olivet just seems like a giant high school pool, brings back nostalgia of swimming in the middle of winter in Michigan
Overall: C+

Kalamazoo
Stalls: D no doors, just a half wall that people can see your head poking out of as people walk around the locker room
Showers: C+ cold, but decent set up
Changing Area: C+
Cleanliness: C+
Bonus Features: C- extremely cold, probably b/c of all the heat lost with an entire wall of windows. Same theme as the pool being fairly dark all the time
Overall: C looking forward to the new pool

Hope:
Stalls: C- only one close to the pool
Showers: B 3 poles with 6 showers on each, good temp for 10-15 min then starts to fade, only one pressure. Great set up for a slippin' slide when shaving for meets by using shaving gel on the floor
Changing Area: B- team kinda has own area but no door/keypad to make it exclusive, plenty of space for away team to change with the other Dow users on Saturday afternoon
Cleanliness: B
Bonus Features: B+ "Dow Ooaffish Weigh In's" the super accurate scale by the team's row of lockers that your freshman biology prof likes to use after his shower when your whole team is in the locker room. Removable ceiling panels to hide freshmen's things because they don't know how to use a combination lock. The Sauna, after a grueling practice you can hit the shower and sauna to get yourself ready to brave the Michigan cold. Sometimes used as an impromptu steam room by dumping water bottles on the heater (don't use gatorade if you want it to smell like cotton candy), also a great place to run into legendary Dow members like our friend Greg Golden...
Overall: B Dow has character. Hope is due for a new pool, ideal location would be between the Van Andel soccer stadium and the Devos Fieldhouse. Although, I don't know if the Devos's would let Patnott's Fish Farm block the $1,000,000 view of their building when you drive into Holland

Everyone feel free to comment on their own locker room experiences or something I may have missed
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby Old Noodle » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:42 pm

Crash Bandicoot wrote:Alma:
Stalls: C+
Showers: N/A I don't think I ever showered here b/c I couldn't find it
Changing Area: B confusing locker room, seems like one big hallway with a bunch of smaller rooms, constant lost feeling


I only have a couple comments on your assessment. First off, it's impossible to get from Alma's pool deck to their changing area without first encountering showers. Also, I agree that the locker room there is confusing.

Also, Olivet has showers, though not as in your face as Alma.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby WilliamWallace » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:53 pm

I seem to remember Albion having a slight current in lane 6...? As in felt like swimming uphill one way and down hill the other. It might be lane 1- whichever one is farthest from the diving boards.
1.calvin
2. Albion
3. Hope - Dow is better than HAC. Don’t @me
4.alma
5.olivet
6.a puddle
7. Kzoo

Also I’m fairly certain the VaC for whom it is named for is the primary financier of everything CSD. So it’s less of the college deciding where it’s budget money goes to and more a donor making a restricted gift- which can not be redirected. Regardless it is a massive benefit for the team and is well appreciated by them.

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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby quacker » Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:50 pm

Not about rankings, but I wonder if (and hope that) Hope has a new pool in their master plans.

Practically ever other Hope athletic team has had either a remodeled/restored or newly built facility over the past 15 years or so. What improvements have occurred at Kresge? Is the sauna still broken?

Hey Taber, I know you read this, get a John Patnott Natatorium drawn up, get someone with Amway money to pay for it, and then have Slagh dig a hole for it.

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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby JoshaintmyBoss » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:42 pm

I have been told that a new pool is being planned, but construction won't start any time soon. They want to replace the entire Dow fitness center, so that obviously raises the cost by a considerable amount.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby Sheev » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:03 pm

quacker wrote:get a John Patnott Natatorium drawn up


The Patnottatorium. From what I hear HMS has an extensive history with digging pits so I don't think they will be short on manpower when it comes time to break the ground.

Crash Bandicoot wrote:Kalamazoo
Stalls: D no doors, just a half wall that people can see your head poking out of as people walk around the locker room


This adds a completely new dynamic to the meet. No better way to establish dominance than to stare someone from the opposing team down when you're taking an open-air dump.

I think Albion also has an extra area for their swimmers on deck where it's "under" the stands somewhat, complete with heating lamps and other things. One of the better home-pool advantages in the league. I think they also have a hot tub on deck? If the pool wasn't four feet at its deepest I think this would be the clear-cut number 2 in the league. The Dow does have some pretty solid blocks and now has the extra roll-down backstroke ledges, which is something I haven't seen mentioned here.

WilliamWallace wrote:3. Hope - Dow is better than HAC. Don’t @me


@WilliamWallace I mostly agree with you; I've never been too fond of the HAC in all my years swimming there. My favorite part was when they didn't have walkout music during finals at my senior year MIAAs. Also the slide makes it feel like you're at a water park, not a competition pool. But it does have 8 lanes, a full warmdown pool, the ability to run diving concurrently, and a scoreboard that works more than some of the time. In concept it's better but I always loved meets at the Dow.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby Salad Fingers » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:42 pm

Sheev wrote:
Crash Bandicoot wrote:Kalamazoo
Stalls: D no doors, just a half wall that people can see your head poking out of as people walk around the locker room


This adds a completely new dynamic to the meet. No better way to establish dominance than to stare someone from the opposing team down when you're taking an open-air dump.


That might have been the funniest thing I have ever read on this forum. I personally LOVED those stalls. The toilet seat was ALWAYS wet, so you never knew if you were sitting in pee or not.

Also, none of you know about the lockerrooms and the shower of tomorrow, today.

My one pro comment for KZoo's pool - the wall of windows. It made a lot practices better.
Imagine this...
Your set is 3( 6 x 150 @ 2:00 STK w/rope at halfway). Your thoughts as you go through the second round is 'F*ck me...only 9 more to go'. Then you look outside. You remember your balls shrinking up inside of you on your walk to the pool because it's -15 outside. And better yet, it started snowing since. Your beard is going to freeze and you wish one of those giant icicles would snap off the roof and spear you. Make it quick. Then you come back to reality and realize you have 9 more 150s @ 2:00 with a rope at half way.

IMO, the KZoo pool is a training advantage...like at altitude...only there you face despair in the pool, while you look outside, and with air quality that makes Beijing look LEED certified.
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Re: Natatorium Rankings

Postby WilliamWallace » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:01 pm

quacker wrote:Practically ever other Hope athletic team has had either a remodeled/restored or newly built facility over the past 15 years or so. What improvements have occurred at Kresge? Is the sauna still broken?


Sauna still smells like someone peed on the coals. Oh wait, they did.

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