There are a lot of reasons people won’t consider trying scuba diving – “I’m claustrophobic”; “I can’t swim”, “I’m afraid of running out of air”, “I’m worried of my ears popping”, etc. etc. But for the ones who are afraid of the creatures of the deep … i.e. “I don’t want to get eaten by a shark”, the ultimate user experience for the critterphobic scuba diver may be the pool. No, not your average YMCA, 12-15 feet deep pool. We are talking about pools designed for scuba divers and, this fall, the greatest inland scuba diving destinate is about to open in Poland.
According to Babich (2017), “user experience is the way a person feels about using a product, system, or service and this includes a person’s perceptions of practical aspects such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency of the system.” Only 40 percent of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the ocean (UN, 2017). In just the United States, the state with the most certified scuba divers per capita, is Colorado. How do certified divers who live nowhere near the ocean dive and practice their skills for the few trips a year they are able to take to the ocean? The same solution resolves the fear in some who want to try the sport and those who live in land-locked locations. In the scuba diving world, the user design is perhaps only considered in the training, equipment and execution of a dive. However, these man-made dive pools turn user design to building the body of water for the divers (and others) to enter and the best part, they don’t have to be near an ocean in order to be designed and built.
There are some big pools in the world designed for scuba diving (recreational and commercial). The NASA Pool in Houston, Texas; the San Alfonso Del Mar in Algarrobo, Chile; Nemo 33 in Brussels, Belgium, and the reining size champion, Deep Y-40, located in Italy, Deep Y-40 is the deepest indoor diving pool at 131 feet deep.
Deep Y-40 will lose its “biggest dive pool” title this fall, when the Deepspot Pool in Poland comes online. Deepspot will be the deepest pool in the world with a depth of 148 feet, hold 8,000 cubic meters of water (as much as 27 Olympic 25-meter swimming pools). Halvorson (2011), points to user design as having content strategy plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content. The design of these pool, while physical and not digital, takes the same content strategy steps. Deepspot takes scuba diving training to a new level with several sections to challenge divers from beginner to advanced. User design in the Deepspot Pool includes underwater calves, overhands and even a “blue hole”. Built not only for the scuba and free divers, this pool was designed to engage even friends and family members of divers who are still too hesitant to try breathing underwater. Non-divers will explore the underwater world through a walk-through observation area and see-through tunnels (Scuba Dive Costa Rica, 2019).
Designers of these extreme scuba diving pools are in a race for the “deepest” title and Deepspot won’t hold that title for long. The Blue Abyss is slated to open in 2021 in Colchester, United Kingdom and boasts 164-foot-deep pool. The Blue Abyss is designed as a deep sea and space research, training and test facility (Mailonline, 2019).
Regardless of who wins the race for the deepest scuba diving pool, Halvorson (2011), explains that “it is inherently impossible to design a great user experience for bad content.” Scuba diving is, in my opinion, great content and therefore these pools are designing for a great user experience. For those who are a little afraid of the critters in the ocean, these pools are a great option for dipping their feet in the deep end.
Babich, N. “A Beginner’s Guide to Information Architecture for UX Designers.” 2017. Adobe Stock.
“Deepspot Pool Could Be the Greatest Manmade Dive Spot on Earth.” Scuba Diving Costa Rica, 16 Apr. 2019, www.costaricadiveandsurf.com/deepspot-pool-greatest-manmade-dive-spot/.
Halvorson, K. “Content Strategy and UX: A Modern Love Story”. 2011. UX Magazine.
Mailonline, M. “The Deepest Pool in the World: Swimmers Will Be Able to Dive 148ft down in Incredible Polish Pool.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 7 Mar. 2019, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6782909/The-deepest-pool-world-Swimmers-able-dive-148ft-incredible-Polish-pool.html.
“What Is User Experience (UX) Design?” The Interaction Design Foundation, www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design.