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College Aquatics Complex Features "Shamu Shelf"

The "Shamu shelf," at the Gregory Gymnasium Aquatic Complex looks a lot like the shallow area for Sea World's killer whale. But it's students at the University of Texas at Austin who love to show off here.

Design 308 Ab As pools meant purely for leisure move into the collegiate mainstream, more attention is being paid to the social element of such spaces - to cite two examples, extra-large spas and underwater benches. A third possibility is the "Shamu shelf," so called because it approximates the large shallow area where Sea World's killer whale slides up to present himself to spectators. It's a detail that is fast becoming a staple of backyard pools, an area where homeowners can allow smaller children to splash in very shallow water, usually 6 to 18 inches deep.

On the Shamu shelf at the University of Texas at Austin's Gregory Gymnasium Aquatic Complex, students lying on vinyl chaise lounges - chairs with metal parts should definitely be avoided - read and talk, splashing themselves occasionally and enjoying the built-in air conditioning caused by breezes blowing across the cool water beneath them. It's a scene you might view at any resort - although not in California, much to the chagrin of Carlsbad, Calif.-based designer Aquatic Design Group. The state pool code there doesn't permit underwater ledges, so you'll need to check applicable regulations first.

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