Bulkhead Case Study: University of Florida

April 11, 2011 | Categories: Natare Projects, Pool Equipment & Systems

How do you instantly change a swimming pool from yards to meters, from water polo to water ballet, or divide a large pool for simultaneous water aerobics and scuba diving classes? The answer is a movable swimming pool bulkhead system.

Essentially, a movable pool wall that may be safely locked in place or easily moved to any position in the pool, swimming pool bulkheads allow a variety of regulated competition courses by easily changing lane length. They can also serve as activity dividers, diving platforms and stations for competition officials.

The University of Florida Gators are well aware of the critical role bulkheads play in their O’Connell Center aquatic complex programming, so when it became time to replace their old, obsolete bulkheads they looked to Natare Corporation for advice and assistance.

At time of inspection, review of the building access and site conditions were completed so that a preliminary program could be developed for removing the aging bulkhead structures and reinstalling the new system. Limited access to the facility presented a significant logistics challenge. Natare typically builds, transports and installs movable bulkheads in one piece. Gaining access to this facility was a monumental undertaking. The roof at the O’Connell Center is air supported, and as such a revolving door was the only access. The challenge was to install the moving bulkheads without compromising the air pressure that supported the roof of this massive complex.

The project timetable presented yet another obstacle. The complete program for preparation of bulkhead design documentation, program approval, fabrication and installation along with the removal of their existing units would require 120 to 150 days. The university has a busy programming schedule and needed the facility to operate as normally as possible with little disruption to daily operations. The bulkheads were scheduled for installation over the December 1997 holiday break–110 days after project approval.

Accessibility was addressed by removing the existing doors and constructing a temporary airlock through which the new bulkheads and appropriate equipment could move. The new bulkheads were completely assembled into three sections and delivered to the job site. The sections were then lifted with a crane and placed into position to be inserted into the building through the airlock. Fork trucks, floating dollies and rigging equipment were used to move the bulkheads from the staging area through the airlock and onto the natatorium deck where they were re-assembled, cleaned and adjusted, then placed into the pool.

The two 65-foot moving bulkheads were furnished with certified slip-resistant grating, starting platforms and anchors, guard rails and targets, and bulkhead anchorage systems.

Natare finished the project by providing staff instruction and training in the operation, maintenance and movement of the bulkheads. The O’Connell Center project was successfully completed ahead of schedule.

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