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How Big Is an Olympic Swimming Pool? Your Questions Answered Ahead of the Summer Games

We’re taking a deep dive into all the details you’ve ever wanted to know.

By Grace Jidoun

Millions of international tourists will descend on Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, and the entire region will transform into one spectacular sporting festival, with beach volleyball under the Eiffel Tower and equestrian events in the gardens of Versaille.

Paris officials had invested $1.5 billion to clean up the Seine, with designs on hosting open-water swimming events on the famous river — like it had been for the 1900 Paris Olympics. But even after an extensive de-polluting effort, that plan looks unlikely, according to NBC News. Thankfully, most of the racing events will take place in two grand watery stadiums. The Paris La Defense Arena — the largest indoor sporting venue in Europe — will host competitive swimming and water polo, while the new Aquatics Center will stage diving and “Artistic Swimming.”

Brand-new Olympic pools will be the centerpiece of both arenas, where there is sure to be the most epic competitions at the Summer Olympics. After all, Olympic swimming has traditionally been dominated by athletes representing the United States, who have won over 250 gold medals.

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Here, we dive into all the details about Olympic pools.

How long is an Olympic swimming pool?

An Olympic pool is 50 meters long, or about 164 feet — around the same width as a football field. There is a little wiggle room, however, for touch pads at the starting end and turning end of the pool, allowing for a maximum of 50.030 meters.

During the competitive swimming heats at the Olympics, you'll see the four primary types of swim strokes: butterfly, freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. Then, there's the mixed medley race, showcasing all four styles in a single event. The pool must be big enough to accommodate a variety of skills and distances, from 50-meter races to 1500-meter events.

The Olympics Swim Aquatics Centre in Paris

How deep is an Olympic swimming pool?

The Olympics adhere to strict rules about their competitive long pools, set by FINA, the international governing body of swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming, and open-water swimming. According to FINA, the minimum depth for long swimming must be 2 meters (6.5 feet), but three meters (9.8 feet) are recommended to provide the best environment.

Diving is a different story, however, and requires a deeper pool so athletes can safely drop from platforms as high as 32 feet (10 meters) above the ground — roughly the height of a three-story building! For all diving pools, FINA recommends a minimum depth of five meters or about 16 feet. 

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How much water is in an Olympic swimming pool?

While there are rules for nearly everything from water temperature (25 – 28 degrees Celsius) to the color of the lane ropes, there are no official requirements for the number of gallons in the pool. That said, Olympic enthusiasts agree that a 50-meter pool with a minimum depth of two meters requires 660,000 gallons of water. No matter what type of pool — long pools or diving pools — during the competition, the water level is kept constant, with very little inflow or outflow to avoid any currents or turbulence.

Fans are sure to be wowed by the sheer magnitude and sparkling newness of the Olympic pools. The Aquatic Center was built in the suburb of Saint-Denis specifically for the Olympics and will live on as a neighborhood sports center after the games. The pool at Paris La Defence will be constructed from the ground up on the arena's floor — and the venue has its own interesting history. In addition to hosting sporting events, it’s a popular concert venue where The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and P!nk have come through. None other than Taylor Swift will grace the stage on her Eras Tour this May, just two months before the Opening Ceremony on July 26. Leave it to Paris to add even more glamour to The Olympics.

Beginning July 26, you can catch all the coverage on Peacock and NBC.

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