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.
The Aquatic Center has been the site for some of the top swimming and diving events in the country: nine Big Ten Championships, six NCAA Championships, many national and international competitions and countless State High School Championships.
The Aquatic Center was the site of the Men's Big Ten Championships in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2005. The Women's Big Ten meet has been held at the Aquatics Center four times, in 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2004. The Aquatic Center also hosted the Phillips 66 USS National Championships in 1998, 2002 and 2008, 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 and 2007. The Aquatic Center also hosted the 2007 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. In 2011, the facility will host the Men's Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving 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 Head Coach Dennis Dale. "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."
"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