As the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park is set to open to the public, Reporter Natalie Glanvill feels the spirit of the games again as she makes a visit.

The excitement of the 2012 games came flooding back as I stood facing the 50m pool in the Aquatics Centre.

While the building was not the scene of British glories seen elsewhere during the 2012 games, its iconic design still summons memories of pride, drama and sporting excellence.

But today was more about the future, with the centre set to open to the public to provide a sporting legacy for the community and those seeking sporting glory. 

A quick tour revealed a modern, minimalist and spacious design throughout with the removal of spectator seats replaced by 2,800 sqm of glass allowing beams of natural light to enter either side of the competition pool. A ray of sunshine broke through the clouds, glistening on the water and lighting up the entire space.

A minor criticism at first glance is the stone-coloured walls in the main pool and diving area are quite dull. But the general manager informs me some artwork and signs will be added.

The centre has been designed by Zaha Hadid to distinguish between those using the space to learn, have fun and those preparing for high-level competition.

A second pool used for training during the Olympics has been divided into two 25m spaces for people to learn how to swim and have fun on an inflatable obstacle course, while the main pool will be divided into nine lanes for fitness and competition training.

Throughout my visit, it became obvious this is a leisure facility which is designed and marketed to be taken seriously, intensified by the sight of Tom Daley preparing for his next competition.

Having never experienced swimming in a 50m pool, I felt the strain after just one length. But there is something about the building and the spirit of the games which drives you on.

The temperature of the water is perfect, especially if you’re like me and cannot stand cold water.

It is calm, the air feels fresh and oxygenated and the water doesn’t even taste of chlorine.

At no time did I get goosebumps after leaving the water as the room temperature is close to a sauna.

Staff and lifeguards were friendly and smiled at me every time I looked their way.

For all swimmers, especially within the six host boroughs, this is a fantastic facility on our doorstep.

Sessions can be booked as of today by visiting the website and cost £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for children (non-members).

A monthly membership with access to all pools, classes, the gym and the Copper Box Arena is £45.00, cheaper than your average Nuffield Health or David Lloyd.

In terms of downsides, the Jacuzzis famously pictured throughout the diving events have been removed and the public are not allowed to use the diving boards unless they are professionals or are enrolled in training sessions.

Finally, it is worth noting this world-class facility is opening to the public a month ahead of schedule.


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