As the question states, for what purpose were some public swimming pools constructed as 33m in length? Was there a particular fitness requirement or event that meant this design was better than 25m or 50m length pools?

Question specifically related to UK based pools, but if other pools in other countries are also 33m in length, the same reason might apply.


It seems to be based on the rules of Water Polo. The size of the pool is between 20 to 30 meters in length. It doesn't specify how deep the goals are supposed to be, but the standard seems to be about 1.5m. So if you have a maximum size pool of 30 meters + two 1.5 meter long goals, then the total pool size should be 33 meters in length.


To answer why they chose 30m and not 25m since it fits within range.

While I don't have proof, I suspect it's because most competitive water polo is played in 30m pools. For example, the official rules of Canadian Water Polo Association (the only set of rules I could quickly find that doesn't require a PDF download) states:

The Pool

The dimensions for games should be 25 metres (women) and 30 metres (men) in length by 20 (not less than 17) metres wide. The depth is ideally 1.8 metres or more.

So if the goal is to accommodate competitive water polo, you want to give the players enough space to play in the field in which they're going to compete in. Also, if you ever want to host a sanctioned water polo event, then you need a pool that fits the required dimensions.

  • +1, But if it's between 20-30 whats wrong with just having a 20m pool with 1.5m goals? Obviously it's smaller but it's within the rules right?
    – Twyxz
    Oct 29 '18 at 15:20
  • Could it be that pre 1952, butterfly was not considered a stroke in its own right, so a medley consisted of backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. 3 lengths then equal 100m? However I see no history of 100m medley distances. Races used to be over 300m, but you could have a pool of 25m length to still achieve this.
    – R_Avery_17
    Oct 29 '18 at 15:24
  • @Twyxz Yes, but it also depends on the federation rules. According to this Quora answer, USA Men's water Polo is played in a 30m pool and USA Women's in a 25m pool. I imagine there may be some youth leagues that do 20m water polo or something. So if you're in a competitive team that's practicing, then you want to practice on the size you play. quora.com/Why-are-some-swimming-pools-33-meters-in-length
    – DeeV
    Oct 29 '18 at 15:25
  • @Neal1581 You could also have one 50m Olympic sized pool to accommodate racers, but that's more expensive to maintain than a 30m pool. I don't know how popular water polo is compared to racing, but it sounds like whoever built the pools chose water polo as priority.
    – DeeV
    Oct 29 '18 at 15:30

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