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February 13, 2014

Aluminum structures in Orlando help Olympic hopefuls ‘go for the gold’

While more than 3,000 of the world’s top athletes are competing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, many thousands more are hard at work around the world preparing for another event:  the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A favorite training location for U.S. divers and swimmers is the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando, Florida, where two-time Olympic diver Mark Ruiz is the head coach of a prestigious diving school. Under a retractable roof, the facility houses one of the largest Olympic-size pools in the Southeast.  As the Center’s Olympic-bound athletes get ready to “go for the gold,” GatorDock is helping out with another valuable metal:  aluminum.             

Originally opened in 1985, the facility was the first of its kind to incorporate lodging and a sporting venue in one location.  “Back then, people thought stainless steel was the best material for diving platforms,” said Joe Linebarier, GatorDock’s regional sales rep.  “It rusts at a slower rate than steel, but over time stainless steel still will deteriorate badly.”

Last year, the YMCA knew that the Center’s 3, 5, 7 and 10-meter platforms, plus the catwalks, stairs, and ladders, were in dire need of replacement.  Swimmers and divers were at risk of injury from deteriorated structures.

“We convinced the Y’s executives that marine grade aluminum is the way to go,” said Linebarier. “It has a long maintenance-free life, is esthetically pleasing, and excels in resisting corrosion.  Moreover, aluminum’s high strength-to-weight ratio enabled us to design a much stronger platform.”

The job had its challenges for GatorDock’s engineers, who made many on-site visits to refine their designs.  The higher platforms required many angled stairways.  Concrete, too, had to be repaired at many connecting points.

The entire job was done for just $60,000. Now the Center has set its sights on another project: replacing rusted stainless steel handrail in the spectator seating sections with Gator aluminum railing.

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