The reopening of the University of New Orleans campus aquatics center has reenergized local swim programs.

Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Crescent City in August 2005, the University of New Orleans swimming and diving teams have been nomadic, attending only away meets and occasionally taking advantage of Tulane University's aquatic center across town. That all changes this season; the Privateer men's team will host a home meet on Sept. 7, followed by the women's team in October.

"We've been waiting four long years for this," UNO head swim coach Randy Horner told the city's Times-Picayune in July. "We haven't been able to have any home meets. This is definitely a shot in the arm for our program and UNO in general."

The venue is the renovated Lakefront Aquatic Center, the last of the university's athletics facilities to reopen since the campus closed entirely following Katrina. Not simply reopened, the facility has been renovated to include seating capacity for 600 spectators, a new sound system, a new video scoreboard and mechanical upgrades. An outdoor pool area now features a resurfaced deck as well as new lighting and landscaping.

The 50-meter indoor pool - which, prior to Katrina, had hosted state-level swim meets - is the only Olympic-size pool in the immediate area, and the university anticipates the renovated facility will again be host to community, regional and state aquatics programs and competitions.

For Horner, the reopening truly represents a new chance for a strong dive off the block. "We've been recruiting and bringing people in and telling them we have a vision," he told the Times-Picayune. "It's been a constant challenge trying to keep up the morale of the team and focus on the big picture. To have this in place now, the sky is the limit."

More Facilities News

Contributions from more than 2,600 donors made possible June's groundbreaking for a $65.5 million athletics and events complex on the campus of Ithaca College. The complex will directly benefit the 50 percent of the student body that participates in Bombers' athletics and intramural sports programs, and it will also house the largest indoor event venue in Tompkins County, N.Y. At the heart of the complex is a 130,000-square-foot field house that will include an arena, and a track-and-field center will double as a practice facility for numerous sports.

The field house will also offer training areas, an outdoor plaza, a press box, a VIP room, athletic department offices and locker rooms. An 81,000-square-foot outdoor stadium will feature synthetic turf and seating for 1,000 spectators. A 35,000-square-foot aquatics pavilion will feature an eight-lane, 50-meter pool with a diving well and movable bulkheads, a 15-to-20-foot-wide pool deck, a warming tub and a wet classroom. The complex will also include a six-court outdoor tennis facility. Future plans for the university call for facilities dedicated to basketball and volleyball, gymnastics, rowing, indoor tennis, wrestling, and strength and conditioning. Designed by Columbus, Ohio-based Moody-Nolan Inc., the complex is expected to be operational by fall 2010. As part of efforts to revitalize the Brookfield neighborhood in Oakland, Calif., ground was broken in June for the approximately 50,000-square-foot East Oakland Sports Center. Residents and local political leaders have envisioned the center for decades, since a neighborhood pool closed there in 1976. An aquatics center will house an indoor leisure pool and a 25-yard-by-25-meter competition pool, while the recreation center will feature a two-court gymnasium with a suspended running track, dance and group fitness rooms, a learning/media center, and numerous gathering spaces. Designed by Berkeley-based ELS Architecture and Urban Design, the $24 million building will feature extensive use of glass in order to provide both natural light and transparency. Competitive and recreational pool-goers alike welcomed this summer's opening of the Cook Creek Aquatics Center in the Denver suburb of Lone Tree, Colo. Funded by a 2007 bond referendum and operated by the South Suburban Recreation District, the center represents a redevelopment of an existing pool on a 3.4-acre isthmus separating two creeks. The new facility features two swimming pools - a leisure pool with a zero-depth entry, a play structure, a lazy river and a flume slide, and an eight-lane lap pool suitable for competitive meets - supported by a bathhouse, a mechanical equipment building and a third building for picnicking and additional storage. Expansive decks with attractive landscaping surround the pools, as do multiple shade structures. Sustainability efforts include the use of photovoltaic solar collectors and a regenerative media filtration system designed to reduce the consumption of water, chemicals and energy.