The University Aquatic Center, located east of Cooke Hall on the Minneapolis campus, was built in 1990. It was fashioned to meet or exceed Olympic standards so that it could host major swimming and diving events. Nearly two acres in size, the Aquatic Center houses the Dorothy L. Sheppard Pool, a 50-meter competition pool, eight lanes wide and eight feet deep, with a movable bulkhead. The separate diving well features a pair of one-and three-meter boards, as well as 1, 5, 7.5 and 10-meter diving platforms. In addition to the 1,346 permanent seats, there is room for 1,200 temporary bleachers. In 2005, the Aquatic Center added a new state-of-the-art video display system completed at a cost of $250,000. Purchased and installed through Colorado Timing Systems, the 21-foot by 10-foot digital video display is the largest permanent video installation in an aquatic facility in the United States. Skylights run the length of the ceiling, reducing the need for electric lighting at daytime events. Fifty-four loudspeakers surrounding the pool give it some of the best acoustics in the country.
The Aquatic Center has been the site for some of the top swimming and diving events in the country: 10 Big Ten Championships, seven NCAA Championships, many national and international competitions and countless State High School Championships.
The Aquatic Center was the site of the 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2011 Men’s Big Ten Championships. The Women’s Big Ten meet has also been held at the Aquatics Center five times, in 1991, 1996, 1999, 2004 and 2007. The Aquatic Center also hosted the Phillips 66 USS National Championships in 1998 and 2002, and was the site of the U.S. Open in 2003. The Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships were held for the first time in 1994, and again in 1997, 2000, 2005, 2007, and 2011. In 2007, the Aquatic Center hosted both the Men's and Women's NCAA Championships. The Aquatic Center is also the site for Minnesota amateur, high school, and small college meets annually, and has a full schedule of recreational sports for the campus and the community.
“It gives us one of the top three swimming and diving facilities in the country,” said men's swimming coach Dennis Dale. “It’s another indication that the University of Minnesota is committed to a first-class swimming and diving program. The best aspect of the facility is the way we maintain it. It’s a true credit to the staff. It’s a fast pool and the lighting is sensational but the best part of it is that it’s never run down. If something needs attention, they give it attention. Other pools just aren’t maintained at the same level. It’s a credit to our aquatics staff and University in the investment they have made. We take care of our investment.”
“Minnesota’s Aquatic Center is one of the most comfortable facilities that I have ever dived in. The lighting is excellent and the boards are smooth. I usually do not like to dive indoors, but of the indoor facilities that I have had to dive indoors in, this has to rate as one of the best.” – Greg Louganis, Olympic and World Champion Diver
“The (Aquatic Center) is probably the finest training facility anywhere. The pool is fast; it’s just a great competitive center. I had the best race of my life in the Aquatic Center at the U.S. Open. I raced unrested, unshaved and untapered against the best two or three swimmers in the world and won. It’s a great facility.” — Mike Barrowman, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist