An overwhelming majority of college students must pay most if not all, of their tuition out of pocket. Taking financial assistance out of the incentive equation means replacing it with another variable. The revised formula includes improved and expanded social activities, especially those connected to aquatics. A rapidly growing number of colleges and universities are allocating funds and/or land to accommodate the changing expectations of the current and upcoming generations of students.
Methodology: In all but the least predictable climates, the cold of winter is finally in the rearview mirror. Young people everywhere are eager to celebrate, and what better way than with a trip to the local swimming pool? To set the mood, we’ve ranked the Top 30 Leisure Pools on college campuses as inspiration to tone up just a little bit more before the prime of swimsuit season. Leisure Pools were ranked using subjective data such as reviews, a point system based on notable amenities, as well as average temperature data by location, based on the assumption that a leisurely swim is more satisfying when it serves as both an escape from the heat and a medium for soaking up some much-missed vitamin D. Whether your pool demeanor tends towards driven or drowsy, great swimming options on college campuses abound. Soak it in, kids. Summer is here!
The Best College Pools
30. Iowa State University
Iowa State has long been associated with research and development. It prides itself on applying these skills to the health and well – being of its student body. A whole education requires that the whole student be developed, and the university intends to achieve this goal. Group and solo fitness and wellness activities are available all over campus. Beyer Hall offers a variety of opportunities to stay fit and feel great. Intramural games and sports clubs allow students to participate in indoor and outdoor competition at all skill levels. Several courts in the multiple level facilities accommodate basketball, volleyball, squash, and racquetball. There is also a weight room and pool large enough for lap swimming and diving.
29. University of California at Berkley
All of the rec centers have locker rooms, showers, pools, multi-purpose rooms, and tennis courts, but they are not exactly alike. Separately they offer fields and tracks for outdoor activities, sand volleyball courts, a skate park, rope course, and multi-purpose activity rooms. The University takes full advantage of its location by presenting its students with a multitude of exclusively outdoor activities. Along with several intramural sports and over thirty sports clubs, UC Berkeley’s Marina provides more water sports than the average campus, including kayaking and sailing. The Haas Clubhouse includes outdoor swimming, area for grilling or a picnic, full kitchen facilities, and enough space to host special and private events. The Pro Shop Café offers a variety of refreshments and televised sports entertainment.
28. University of Texas at Austin
The Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex was renovated and expanded to accommodate increased indoor and outdoor student activities. The school offers intramural sports competitions (like handball, martial arts, and wallyball), wilderness leadership training, climbing walls, and several pools in a lush, serene environment. Students also have access to multi-purpose rooms and studios. The strength and conditioning facility is tremendous and complete with customized equipment for training, hydrotherapy, a simulator for golf and putting plunge pools, astroturf track and training center, and sports medicine facilities. The pools have very specific uses and are particularly equipped for leisure, sunbathing and spa, swimming laps, and hosting competitive events.
27. University of Colorado
The main student rec center accommodates 5 fitness studios, 6 basketball courts, 4 racquetball courts, 3 tennis courts, 4 pools, an indoor turf gym, wellness suite, ice arena, and climbing wall in 300, 000 sq. ft. Bear Creek Rec Center allows fitness services for students residing in affiliated apartments. Outdoor adventures include four grass fields, three artificial fields, challenge courses, and lighted basketball courts. Students can exercise their competitive natures through intramural and club sports that challenge all skill levels. Water activities include instruction in safety and procedure and indoor and outdoor swimming. The outside pool features leisure activities in a quiet, natural setting. The indoor pools are maintained for lap swimming and competitive diving and swimming.
26. University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA encourages physical activity and competition. Students are welcome to participate in club sports, intramural sports, and, for those seeking the extreme experience, extramural sports provide an added challenge. While intramural sports offer single and group competition among other students on campus, extramural sports involve competition with students all along the west coast. The university is about pools, pools, and more pools. Six aquatic facilities accommodate several pools for specific purposes. Swimming lessons for youth and adults, aquatic fitness classes, lap swimming, low-intensity flexibility and strengthening programs, therapeutic exercise, and competitive swimming are just a few of the activities available to students. The Marina Aquatic Center rounds out the water sports with surfing, sailing, kayaking, and rowing classes and trips.
25. High Point University
HPU focuses on wellness and fitness as part of a comprehensive program to maintain all aspects of student living. State-of-the-art cardio machines come equipped with Apple / Android media jacks, web browsers, and HD television. A suspended cushioned walking / running track surrounds two full, multi-functional game courts, and certified instructors lead a variety of exercise programs in the multi-purpose rooms. Individual and intramural team sports are available for indoor and outdoor competition. Lighted basketball and tennis courts, lighted multi-purpose fields (night games of soccer, lacrosse, softball, football, etc.), sand volleyball courts, and an outdoor pool are just a few of the evening activities offered by the university. They also provide several heated indoor pools with Jacuzzi hot tubs attached large enough to accommodate 14 people.
24. University of South Carolina
Two rec centers cover 400, 000 sq. ft., both providing multiple courts for basketball, racquetball, volleyball, squash, and handball, indoor pool, multi-purpose activity fields, and sand volleyball lots. The Solomon Blatt Physical Education Center has a weight room, an exercise, and aerobics studio, dance studios, and diving well. The Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center offers multi-purpose activity rooms, whirlpool, outdoor pool, sauna, cardiovascular and strength training equipment, indoor track, and climbing wall. Physical fitness is a priority on campus, and between the two facilities, nearly 20 intramural sports, and over 30 club sports for organized competition, all student activity bases are covered.
23. California State University at Fullerton
Cardio and strength training seem to be the foci of fitness at the school. Titan Rec Center is equipped with 60 cardio machines, 80 strength machines, a multi-court gymnasium, sports courts, multi-purpose activity rooms, spin room, indoor walking/jogging track, and a cardio studio. The Student Recreation Center showcases a 1,100 sq. ft. wall for indoor climbers of all skill levels. The 30’ X 27’ wall services rope stations for 9. Personal training for all activities is available. Intramural sports are also available for a little friendly competition. The outdoor pool is designed for lap swimming or leisure, complete with lounge chairs to provide an air of comfort and relaxation.
22. Pepperdine University
Pepperdine has a history of excellence in athletics. Everything is Olympic regulation size with more than adequate seating space. The Firestone Fieldhouse gymnasium accommodates 5,000 and houses a pool reaching a depth of 16 feet, is equipped with a Jacuzzi and one and three-meter boards, and once hosted the 1984 Olympic water polo competition. The Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center fully lights nine courts and once hosted the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships in 1995. The university has the standard amenities that other top-notch schools have, like multiple indoor activity rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, exercise, and weight training facilities, but the crown jewel of the campus is perhaps Alumni Park. Its 30 acres of lush greenery, gently sloping hills, and scenic ponds, an ideal stress reliever, and perfect for picnics and small gatherings.
21. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is focused on the state-of-the-art facilities provided at The Recreation and Wellness Center, which feature a disc golf course, custom climbing wall, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pools. The fitness program addresses assessment, training, orientations, and other specific aspects of fitness. Intramural sports and sports clubs are plentiful as well as outdoor adventure trips and courses that build character and promote self-reliance and sustainability. Aquatic attributes include a nine-lane lap pool, a leisure pool, and Lake Claire activities, including SCUBA certifications. The school also prides itself on adaptive and inclusive recreation programs and equipment for otherwise abled individuals that are applied to basketball, swimming, climbing, and weight training.
20. California State University at Long Beach
The LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified Student Recreation and Wellness Center promotes fitness with strength and weight training, and cardio conditioning. The facilities include 20,000 sq. ft. of cardio and weight equipment, a custom climbing wall, multiple courts for racquetball, basketball, and other gym activities, indoor walking / running track, swimming pool, and sauna. The spacious outdoor pool has designated areas that are maintained throughout the day for everyone’s enjoyment. More than 60 sports clubs and intramural sports are available to the competitively spirited. The Beach Balance program sets this school apart by providing students with a holistic approach to personal well-being, including counseling, nutrition, massage therapy, and other stress management practices and techniques.
19. University of Alabama at Birmingham
All recreational activities are conveniently located in the same building. Three floors and more than 152,000 sq. ft. accommodate fitness areas and classes; courts for volleyball, basketball, racquetball, squash, wallyball; aerobic studios; a climbing wall; nutrition education; cardiovascular and fitness areas; weight training; game room; indoor track, soccer, hockey, and badminton; and swimming pools. The aquatics center has lap swimming (4 standard lanes), and leisure swimming (spotlights a lazy river, vortex, and a hot tub)
18. Oklahoma State University
OSU demonstrated its dedication to the well-being of its student body by investing $20 million to The Colvin Rec Center. The newly renovated facility now includes multipurpose activity rooms and gym, rock climbing, 10 basketball courts, putting greens and golf simulators, indoor/outdoor pool, 8 racquetball courts, cardio theater rooms, and a wellness center. The Seretean Wellness Center comprises a full kitchen, conference hall, massage therapy rooms, personal training, and other activities proven to promote overall wellness. The remote Camp Redlands is reserved for personal and social development by providing leadership and team-building activities. Though somewhat isolated, these facilities are extensive and include a lodge, swimming dock, pavilion, picnic area, a rope challenge course, and 12 cabins.
17. Colorado State University
CSU is ready for any physically fit-minded student. Newly renovated and expanded by 70, 000 sq. ft., the facility has increased and improved its amenities. Over 33 acres have been allotted to outdoor activities including sand volleyball, inline skating, multiple playing fields, and basketball courts. Four courts accommodate drop-in sports, and over 24, 000 sq. ft. is dedicated to weight and cardio fitness. Facilities comprise 55 linear ft. of bouldering and free-standing rope climbing. Along with multiple 25 – yard lap lanes, the aquatic center features an indoor swimming pool boulder, current channel, rock wall, spa, sauna, steam room, and zero-depth entry with sprayers.
16. Florida Gulf Coast University
The Eagles have implemented a physical fitness program that is made up of a main rec center, an auxiliary gym, two recreation fields, a recreation outdoor complex, a challenge course, and aquatics center. Students can take advantage of exercise and cardio machines, a free weight area, multi-purpose field spaces, multiple lighted outdoor courts, and other typical gym amenities. The water activities include 2 Olympic size outdoor pools (collectively 24 lanes for lap swimming and recreation) as well as a resort-style pool complete with water sports equipment. The year-round great weather also allows for other activities including, spacious deck and grilling area, and waterfront activities (tubing, paddle boarding, sailing, and kayaking). The Eagle Challenge Course is ideal for those seeking a little adventure, complete with 10 acres of wilderness and a nearly unrivaled length of the zip line.
15. University of Iowa
The Campus Recreation and Wellness Center is the biggest investment of the four facilities on campus. Amenities include group and personal training areas, multiple game courts, a large gym, and an indoor pool complete with a spa to accommodate 25 people. The gym works for the occasional workout as well as the die-hard and daily dedicated. Over 20, 000 sq. ft. are spread across three levels of state-of-the-art weightlifting machines and equipment, including jump boxes, battling ropes, treadmills, and hex bars. The leisure pool maintains 84 degrees, a spa, a lazy river, vortex, bouldering wall, 20-yard lap lanes, and zero-depth entry that are all available for public and private use.
14. University of Miami
Part of the core values of the school’s mission statement is to nurture the student as a whole person. U of M does just that by providing a majority of healthy food options at all food locations, extensive physical recreation, and programs that support sound mind and spirit. The 18, 000 square feet of The Herbert Wellness Center includes a fitness lab, multipurpose rooms, Pilates and cycling studios, two gyms, instructional kitchen, athletic courts, juice and healthy snack bar, spa and saunas, and a walking/jogging track. More than 50 clubs and intramural sports are available for healthy competition. The outdoor pool is double Olympic size, heated, and used for lap swimming, low-board diving, and relaxing.
13. Rice University
At Rice fitness and wellness focuses on mind and body. Fitness concerns Pilates, personal training, yoga, and mind and body programs. Wellness refers to nutrition (fresh foods from the university’s Farmer’s Market), massage therapy, the Alexander Technique (learning to move more easily and efficiently), and Nirvana Sessions (meditation). There are outdoor programs that encourage strength training and leadership skills. Dance, intramural sports, and club sports are also available. Rice has a competition pool (indoors, standard length and divided into lanes), and a recreation pool (outdoors, volleyball net, two basketball goals, and four ft. maximum depth).
12. University of Akron
The University of Akron offers space for various sports at Buchtel Field, game court spaces in the Central-Hower South Gym, and court space and a competition pool in Ocasek Natatorium; but its real charm lies in The Student Recreation and Wellness Center. This facility delivers when it comes to indoor recreation. More than 295, 000 square feet encompass five diverse gyms, exercise studios, a 54-foot tall rock wall, over 200 pieces of strength training and cardio machines, and a walking and jogging track. The leisure pool is attached to a spa large enough to accommodate 30 people and has a lazy river. No matter the weather in Ohio, students can stay fit or relax as they see fit.
11. University of Alabama
Alabama prides itself on its athletic prowess, and the facilities show it. The newly renovated gym includes an expanded weight room and is stocked full of state-of-the-art equipment that is virtually unrivaled in college athletic programs. The amenities live up to the school’s Division I status with a four-court gym and all of the sports that normally accompany it, indoor climbing, Pilates and yoga conditioning, and intramural and club sports. Aquatic activities consist of a student recreation center (indoors and 4 lanes), an outdoor pool complex slide (trimmed in traditional school colors), an outdoor pool complex lazy river, a 50M pool, a 25 yd. Pool (8 lanes), and diving platforms. There will be no slouching on this campus!
10. Kent State University
Kent State encourages fitness and wellness with Pilates, personal training, and customized fitness programs, nutrition, and massage. Amenities include an ice skating arena, intramural sports, club sports, and community leagues. Kayaking, climbing, team building, biking, and tubing are just some of the outdoor activities offered to students. The leisure pool features a waterfall, cool water vortex, a wading pool, and zero-depth entry. The lap pool consists of 6 standard length lanes and a chair lift.
9. Texas State University
The Student Recreation Center is well laid out and attractive. It houses a boxing room, a weight room, an indoor track, a rock climbing wall with two towers that are at least 50 ft. high, a bouldering area, four huge multipurpose studios, six racquetball courts, and eight ball courts. The intramural and club sports are plentiful and diverse, featuring Xbox tournaments and 6 Foot and Under Basketball. The natatorium consists of two pools, a lap lane pool (six 25 yd. lanes), and a leisure pool (water sports and underwater lounging benches).
8. Auburn University
Auburn University has upped the bar on innovative use of space. Although plenty of institutions of higher learning have allocated more space to their athletic facilities than the 240, 000 square feet that Auburn has, they do not seem to use it as creatively. AU has similar amenities as the others, a golf simulator, cardio and weight machines, indoor multi-purpose athletic courts, and fitness classes. The indoor track meanders throughout the five-story facility like a mall in a major city. The climbing walls are pillars in the middle of the building. Not only is this a genius use of space, but it also eliminates the tedium that so often accompanies exercising. Was the gigantic more-than-Olympic sized, NCAA championship indoor pool mentioned?
7. Missouri State University
The Foster Recreation Center is a LEED-certified, state-of-the-art facility, which offers common athletic activities for its students. The school accommodates regulation fields and courts for intramural and club sports, and individual activities such as jogging, rock climbing, and cardiovascular workouts. The pool is complete with a few extras like water current channel for therapy and walking, wheelchair accessibility, LED lighting, zip line, hydrotherapy jets, and underwater seating. These features are good for al students, not just those rehabilitating.
6. University of Houston
The two-story rec facility houses all of the indoor activities of multipurpose courts or in multipurpose rooms. The walking and jogging track is divided into four lanes with a pace clock visible in two locations. Quality maple flooring is laid throughout the facility. Sports clubs and intramural teams are accommodated for indoor and outdoor games. The natatorium is separated into four parts by three bulkheads. The dry sauna and the whirlpool and sauna both have a 20 person capacity. The outdoor pool includes waterfalls, geysers, adult and children’s slides, water cooling, hot tub capacity for 20, underwater seating, night lighting, sound system, zero-depth beach entry, and bathing shelf.
5. Nova Southeastern
NSU embraces the connection between a healthy mind, body, and spirit and offers the recreation common to all colleges and universities. Intramural sports and other physical activities are geared toward health and wellness. The Rolling Hills Residential Leisure pool (pictured above) is “resort-style”, and is an exclusive benefit of students living in Rolling Hills Graduate Apartments. This pool is beautifully landscaped with rocks and a waterfall, indoor lounge space, and covered outdoor pavilion. In addition to having a “zero-entry” point, the waterfall and heating mechanisms of the pool are powered by solar panels. The main leisure pool is a ½ Olympic-size pool that ranges up to five feet in depth. This pool, located outside of the Don Taft University Center and RecPlex gym facility, is temperature-controlled year-round. The 50-meter pool and dive well is the largest competition pool in the state of Florida with well over one million gallons of water. Lastly, the Competition pool can be set up for 50 meter or 25 yard lap swimming and also boasts two one-meter and one three-meter diving boards.
4. Texas Tech
The Robert H. Ewalt Student Recreation Center enjoys a reputation for being one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country. It takes up 242, 000 sq. ft. to accommodate eight multipurpose courts, two cardiovascular areas with 120 pieces of equipment, and the usual college campus games and activities. The student leisure pool also enjoys a superlative existence as the largest one in the nation. The lazy river is 645 feet long and is the center of the pool’s design. It eventually cost a total of $8.4 million but cost students little more than $10 extra per semester. The indoor pool facility is completely enclosed and, you guessed it; it is one of the largest structures of its kind in the world.
3. Rollins College
The Harold and Ted Alfond Sports Center is impressive enough to have twice hosted the women’s basketball NCAA Division II South Region Tournament. It is a small college but manages to secure plenty of amenities for its student body. Alfond Pool has it all. It has recently been renovated, and new competition blocks have been added. It is an outdoor pool that overlooks a considerable view of Lake Virginia. Students also enjoy water skiing, sailing, rowing, and other marina activities, in addition to the standard field games, court games, and gym activities. The College is also located in the middle of the state of Florida, just north of Orlando and Disney World.
2. University of Missouri
The Mizzou Rec consists of the standard amenities inside, plus a boxing ring and a particularly aesthetically pleasing lobby indoors. Outside is even more picturesque with 40 acres of green space connected to the MU Rec Trail that leads to alternate access to the campus. It is the best of both worlds, rural and urban. The Mizzou Aquatic Center comprises four singular pools: a 50M competition pool, the attached diving well with 10M platform, the resort-quality tranquil pool complete with lazy river, sauna, hot tub, steam room, and vortex, and the outdoor sociable beach club. There is truly something for everyone every day of the year at the University of Missouri.
1. Pensacola Christian College
The Sports Center at Pensacola is a two-story complex that also has the standard amenities that most every other college has, except it has a 12-lane bowling alley, ice skating rink, a miniature golf course, an indoor water park, and simulated surfing with the million-dollar wave rider, Flowrider. Now that’s pulling out all the stops, and the tuition does not reflect all that you get as a student. By far, Pensacola Christian has the best aquatic and recreational experience to offer college students.