Three Pools. Three Schools - Hydrotherapy Benefits and Facility Trends in College Athletics
Emily Burton

From 30-person walk-through pools to individual appendage tanks to variable temperature plunge pools to cryotherapy chambers – there are a wide variety of treatments and aquatic therapies that allow student-athletes to recover and train for top-notch performance. In Fall of 2018, three CBRE | Heery Sports-designed hydrotherapy centers opened at Georgia Tech, Troy University, and West Virginia University. Each campus had a unique approach and space requirements that located their hydrotherapy center within either the mud room, locker room, or training room with explicit preferences from coaching and training staff. The three projects highlighted below illustrate differing design approaches that ultimately led to the same goal – investing in the recovery, rehabilitation, and wellness of their student-athletes.

Georgia Tech Football Locker Room and Hydrotherapy Facility

Georgia Tech’s 8,100 SF renovation transformed their existing locker room into a state-of-the-art recruiting center with 120 lockers surrounding the hydrotherapy center. Visible through floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the hydro center consists of a fully- immersive rain shower and two new in-ground, custom plunge pools. The rain shower allows players to rinse off prior to entering the pools, removing as much loose particles as possible. The 4’-6” deep cold pool ranges from 55-65° and is “U” shaped to create a 35’-long walk-thru plunge pool. The 4’- 0” deep hot pool ranges from 100- 104° and operates as a recovery pool with bench seating along all sides and TVs facing the locker room.

Since Georgia Tech utilizes their locker room and hydrotherapy center as an everyday and gameday facility, it was important for the design team to ensure easy maintenance and cleanliness. Due to its direct adjacency to the locker room the pools utilize bromine with a supplemental UV treatment to eliminate the chemical smells typically associated with pools. In addition, the walls surrounding the hydrotherapy center are fully insulated to mitigate the moisture and temperature differences between it and the locker room.

Leading CBRE | Heery’s design efforts, Dane Hawthorne elaborates, “The hydro center is the showpiece of the locker room. Visible from nearly everywhere in the space, it’s a truly functional amenity for student-athletes and creates an impressive “wow factor” for recruits. Its proximity ensures that recovery doesn’t get overlooked.”


Troy University North End Zone Football Facility

CBRE | Heery partnered with SwimEx on Troy’s new 54,000 SF, 3-story team facility. Increasing player excellence on the field goes well beyond practice, requiring a fine-tuned post-workout process of muscle recovery and maintenance. On the lower level, Troy’s mudroom is situated between the outdoor practice fields and the locker room. The mudroom method allows the locker room to be kept pristine and presentable while also reorganizing the post-practice sequence. The design of the new facility demonstrates the Trojan’s commitment to student-athlete growth and well-being.

The mudroom creates a space for players to leave their dirty shoes, pads, helmets and loose equipment in designated ventilated cubbies, keeping the dirtiest gear outside the locker room. The players then rinse off and walk through a variable temperature cool-down pool. Jacob Vagts, CBRE | Heery’s design lead comments, “Understanding the program’s coaching methods led us to an insightful approach to player wellness and recovery that modified the traditional function and DNA of a football team facility. Our experience at Troy was a true collaboration with coaching, equipment, and facilities staff that resulted in one of the most forward-thinking hydrotherapy / recovery programs in college football.” 


West Virginia University Puskar Center Training Facility

By locating the hydrotherapy pools within the training center, the pool spaces can be easily monitored by WVU training staff who are responsible for injury- prevention, recovery and rehabilitation of student- athletes. The training staff also controls access to the pools, as well as assures that players are taking their regimented cold and hot plunges.

CBRE | Heery Project Manager, Marc Clear comments, “The adjacency between the hydrotherapy pools and the training center is more convenient for trainers to work with injured players undergoing rehabilitation, as they are feet away from treatment tables, rehab machines, underwater treadmills, appendage pools, etc. The addition of these pools gives WVU’s training staff every rehabilitation tool they need at their fingertips, all in one space, while the large capacity of the pools alleviates the worry of overcrowding or a long wait to take the plunge.”