The buffalo-shaped outdoor swimming pool opens at the University of Colorado recreation center Monday, ushering in a new era of sunny relaxation and leisure for students taking classes over the summer.
The pool, which was part of a $63 million recreation center renovation and expansion project, is shaped like the Boulder campus mascot, a charging buffalo.
Construction for the entire recreation center project has been underway since October 2012, after students voted to approve a fee hike to fund the renovation.
A large portion of the renovation — the southwest addition — opened to students in January.
The pool serves as a key part of a heat recovery loop with the ice rink inside the center, said Barb Bogner, assistant director for aquatics and ice rink. All of the heat generated from creating the ice for the rink goes toward heating the pool, she said.
Without the pool, the recreation center would have needed to install a cooling tower, she said.
Pool features include a basketball hoop, volleyball net and a sunbathing area in shallow water. At its deepest points, the pool is 4 feet deep.
Staff members have the ability to put two 25-yard lap lanes in the pool, though it's primarily intended for leisure, Bogner said.
"The whole premise of the outdoor pool, besides being part of the (heat recovery) loop, is the fact that it's an open, inviting recreational space," she said.
Students who are taking summer courses can access the recreation center for no additional cost during the term they are taking classes. Students who are not taking summer classes must pay a $13-a-week fee to use the center during the break, said spokeswoman Annie Mulvany.
The pool is expected to remain open until mid- or late September.
Joe Yoshimura, a junior studying mechanical engineering, said he uses the recreation center four or five times a week during the regular school year, and he plans to try the outdoor pool at least once.
Yoshimura said he wished there was some way for it to be open more during the regular school year, but he doesn't mind the shape.
"We already have the Olympic pool for actual swimmers and divers, so I'm pretty neutral about the shape," he said. "I think it's interesting."
Senior Lily Auyeung said because students who aren't taking summer classes have to pay to use the recreation center, she doesn't feel the pool was really built for all students.
She added that there are often lines to use the lap-swim lanes in the indoor pool, and building additional lanes or building an outdoor lap-swim pool would have been more useful.
Auyeung also wondered what students at other schools might think about CU's decision to build an outdoor, buffalo-shaped pool in Colorado, where temperatures plummet in the winter months.
"This pool is like what you would see in a hotel," she said. "It's not something we really need. I think there were other things we could've spent this money on."
Mulvany acknowledged that the recreation center staff has heard some criticisms of the pool but said students will enjoy using it once it's open and they experience it.
"We think it is a feature the students will really enjoy using," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.