Operating an Olympic-sized pool

When it comes to water maintenance, a pool is just a pool, right? But how about treating and managing a 50-m (164-ft) Olympic pool with 1,135,624 L (300,000 gal) of water, which must be sparkling clear every day? Regardless of a pool’s water volume, disinfection, water balance, and filtration remain the same.

To put this into further perspective, should an operator find sorting out unlabelled plumbing at a mid-sized hotel pool challenging, consider what it would be like at an Olympic aquatic facility, which uses 305-mm (12-in.) lines and has a maze of piping.However, a casual stroll through the pump room of one these massive facilities can be quite eye opening and leave one to think differently. For instance, they do not use typical one-horsepower (hp) pumps and 23-kg (50-lb) sand filters, nor can a maintenance professional quickly change the filter sand with a ‘shop vac’—think rather wheel barrows, shovels and skid loaders.

And even though inventory control and chemical storage for maintaining a hotel pool can prove challenging, try handling 1,361 kg (3,000 lbs) of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), 757 L (200 gal) of muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid), 378 L (100 gal) of sodium hydroxide (NaOH), 2,000 kg (907 lbs) of calcium chloride (CaCl2) and gas chlorine (Cl), and 45 kg (100 lbs) of calcium hypochlorite (Ca[ClO]2), which would be routinely stocked for a typical Olympic-sized aquatic facility.

This brings new meaning to containment, employee hazard and communication training, and safety. Despite their size, however, Olympic aquatic facilities are simply an overgrown ‘big brother’ to mid-size pools. The fundamentals remain the same; however, managing them is another issue.