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Swimmers always want to go faster, and Kevin McGrath said Myrtha Pools USA is here to help in 2012.
McGrath stood guard at sunrise on Wednesday as Myrtha started the construction process for the pools that will be used at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which start June 25 at the CenturyLink Center.
Myrtha returns to Omaha after also supplying the temporary pools in 2008, but with changes in technology that it believes will help U.S. stars such as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin maximize their time in the water.
“If we can take off a tenth or a thousandth of a second, that's a lot,” said McGrath, president and CEO of Myrtha Pools USA, based in Sarasota, Fla.
The biggest improvements since 2008, according to McGrath, have been with the system of outlets and inlets. Those capitalize on the evolving science of handling the flow of 800,000 gallons of water in a 50-meter, 10-lane competition pool.
Changes also have been made to the head walls that minimize the “rebound” of water at the turns and finish.
“We're evolving with the science and we're producing a product to take advantage of the best design that we can,” McGrath said. “We're just trying to take any type of turbulence and friction out of the water, and we suspect that we'll see some good results because of that.”
Keeping in mind that suit restrictions have come since the 2008 U.S. Trials and Summer Olympics, McGrath still believes this can be the fastest pool to date.
“We suspect it will be,” he said. “We are very optimistic, let's say, that we'll have some world records.”
Crews must first assemble the competition pool in the CenturyLink Center arena and the warmup pool in the convention center -- and in a short amount of time.
Plans call for the pools to be finished in 10 days, compared to the process taking 16 days in 2008. The target date to begin filling them is June 4, although that could start sooner.
The water then needs to be treated and heated -- 80 degrees for the competition pool, 81 for the warmup pool -- and ready for the first scheduled practice swims June 6 before the three-day Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational starts on June 8.
Harold Cliff said Omaha was looking for the “fastest pool” from Myrtha, and found it with the company that is also a USA Swimming sponsor.
“They're cutting edge, and that's what you get,” said Cliff, the Omaha Sports Commission president and chief operating officer for the 2012 U.S. Trials. “You want to provide the best possible conditions for the swimmers to compete and make the (Olympic) team.”
Because of a tighter construction schedule than 2008, McGrath said Myrtha has 50-some workers in Omaha compared to about 40 four years ago. They come from Italy, Germany, England and Canada.
Too many on site, however, and he said you just have people getting in the way.
Those from Myrtha and California-based DWR Construction Inc. will put in 18-hour days in a project that will take about 15,000 man hours overall.
“Everybody has a very orchestrated and very choreographed part in the whole thing,” McGrath said.
The first-day schedule included Kiewit Construction spending the morning laying the concrete pre-slabs that were saved from 2008. Steel grids would follow in the afternoon, with the chance that some side panels would be going up by Wednesday night.
Myrtha just built seven pools in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but McGrath said the clock wasn't ticking on his crew as it will be in Omaha.
“To do it in 10 days, that's an Olympian feat in itself,” McGrath said. “It really is.”
Putting together the pool in 2008
Construction begins for the 2012 pool: