The Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, located east of Cooke Hall on the Minneapolis campus, was built in 1990. It was fashioned to meet or exceed Olympic standards so that it could host major swimming and diving events. Nearly two acres in size, the Aquatic Center houses the Dorothy L. Sheppard Pool, a 50-meter competition pool, eight lanes wide and eight feet deep, with a movable bulkhead. The separate diving well features a pair of one-and three-meter boards, as well as 1, 5, 7.5 and 10-meter diving platforms. In addition to the 1,346 permanent seats, there is room for 1,200 temporary bleachers. In 2005, the Aquatic Center added a new state-of-the-art video display system completed at a cost of $250,000. Purchased and installed through Colorado Timing Systems, the 21-foot by 10-foot digital video display is the largest permanent video installation in an aquatic facility in the United States. Skylights run the length of the ceiling, reducing the need for electric lighting at daytime events. Fifty-four loudspeakers surrounding the pool give it "the best acoustics in the country," according to aquatics director Duane Proell.
The Aquatic Center has been the site for some of the top swimming and diving events in the country: nine Big Ten Championships, six NCAA Championships, many national and international competitions and countless State High School Championships.
The Aquatic Center was the site of the Men's Big Ten Championships and hosted the the meet again in 1994, 1998, 2001 and 2005. The Women's Big Ten meet has been held at the Aquatics Center four times, in 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2004. The Aquatic Center also hosted the Phillips 66 USS National Championships in 1998 and 2002, and was the site of the U.S. Open in 2003. The Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships were held for the first time in 1994, and again in 1997, 2000 and 2005. In 2007, the facility will host the NCAA men's and women's swimming and diving championships. The Aquatic Center is also the site for Minnesota amateur, high school, and small college meets annually, and has a full schedule of recreational sports for the campus and the community.
"The [Aquatic Center] is probably the finest training facility anywhere. The pool is fast; it's just a great competitive center. I had the best race of my life in the Aquatic Center at the U.S. Open. I raced unrested, unshaved and untapered against the best two or three swimmers in the world and won. It's a great facility." - Mike Barrowman, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist