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The McCoy Natatorium Competition Pool
Penn State University
University Park, Pennsylvania


Characteristics of the pools:

    Penn State University is the first university in North America to install the Poseidon system. The system is installed in the competition pool at McCoy Natatorium on the Penn State campus.

  • Rectangular 25 yards x 45 feet, six lanes
  • Maximum Depth: 10 feet
  • Minimum Depth: 6 feet

Poseidon Configuration:

Coverage is provided by a series of six overlapping, underwater globes, with two cameras per globe, covering the deep section of the pool.


Poseidon at this Site:

Long known for its tradition of winning athletic teams, Penn State University's men's and women's intercollegiate swimmers and divers recently swept the Big Ten Conference "Swimmers and Divers of the Week" honors. At the same time, also acknowledged as a leader in its other offerings - academics, student life, facilities - Penn State became the first college or university in North America to install the Poseidon computer-aided drowning detection system at its McCoy Natatorium.

In addition to being the home for its competitive swimming program, Penn State's McCoy Natatorium is the aquatic venue for educational, intramural, recreational, and club sport activities serving the university's more than 40,000 students. The facility also serves the surrounding community, offering a variety of programs, including aquatics activities for the elderly and disabled, scuba diving lessons, water polo, aquacise classes, and age-group swimming and diving instruction. The natatorium is host to the annual PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships, the YMCA State Swimming Championships, and the Pennsylvania Special Olympics.

This combination of sheer volume along with the wide-ranging ages, abilities, and interests of people participating in activities at McCoy Natatorium makes ensuring the safety of all participants a significant challenge - and a significant priority.

Under the direction of Dr. Tom Griffiths, Director of Aquatics and Safety Officer for Penn State University, and himself a world-renowned aquatics safety researcher and expert, the safety program at McCoy Natatorium has been designed to include the world's leading theory, applied techniques, and now state-of-the-art technology. Of particular focus is the discipline of lifeguarding. "When it comes to the human factors of lifeguarding, many facilities are too warm, humid, and boring for lifeguards to stay alert. We've incorporated a number of best practices to give lifeguards the best tools available to assist them in doing their jobs," said Griffiths. Among some of those best practices are :

  • The 5/30 Model of Aquatic Accountability, which helps to increase lifeguard vigilance. In this model, the 5 refers to the Five Minute Scanning Strategy, developed at Penn State University, while the 30 Minute Check refers to a simple supervisory "walkabout" every half hour around the pool to monitor lifeguards and the aquatic facility.
  • Use of a revolutionary lifeguard station, also developed at Penn State, which promotes and facilitates a sit, stand, stroll pattern for lifeguarding. This sit, stand, stroll pattern, as opposed to just sitting, helps to maintain lifeguard vigilance.
  • The Poseidon system, which is the computer-aided drowning detection system that monitors the movements of swimmers and can alert lifeguards when a swimmer is in difficulty.

In addition to providing drowning protection for swimmers in the pool, images from the underwater camera globes will be used during television broadcasts of swim meets and for training purposes. Griffiths acknowledged the recent trend among colleges and universities to attract students and remain or become more competitive by offering state-of-the-art recreation centers. Adding state-of-the-art safety devices to recreation facilities even further enhances the value of recreational services at Penn State. According to Dr. Griffiths, "the addition of computer-aided drowning detection adds another layer of protection to the world-class programs already in place and distinguishes our facility in a very unique way."


Pool Address:
Penn State University
McCoy Natatorium
University Park, PA 16802-3804
Main #: 814-863-4000
Fax #: 814-865-3728


See the press release about the inauguration