‘A distinct buzz of excitement hits you, like you’re part of the show’ — Parklife reporter Freddy Mayhew takes a dip in the London Aquatics Centre

17:21 11 March 2014

Freddy Mayhew in the pool.

Freddy Mayhew in the pool.


The first thing that hits you is the heat.

Freddy Mayhew in the pool.Freddy Mayhew in the pool.

It’s 28C in the London Aquatic’s Centre. Simply put, that’s certainly too hot for clothes.

But the temperature is only a brief distraction from the size and functional beauty of Zaha Hadid’s elegant structure.

It is so well designed – the huge windows allowing light to stream in over the spectators’ seats and onto the vast 50m competition pool and diving boards – that you wonder why all pools aren’t built this way.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get a ticket for any of the swimming events in the lottery — neither was the centre’s architect, she revealed — and I could hardly imagine what it was like during the Games, it seems so purposeful and complete now.

In the vast changing rooms, everything is sleek and new. Emerging from them onto the poolside, a distinct buzz of excitement kicks in, as though you’re part of the spectacle.

I think of the famed Olympian-sized footsteps I’m following in as I pad my way to the main pool.

Then I catch sight of one of them, Team GB’s Tom Daley, as he trains over at the diving pool.

His athletic body is enough to make me quickly slip into the water to hide my own lumbering frame.

Do I try to I pretend to be Michael Phelps and power my way to the end? Of course not. I gently breaststroke and take it all in.

• Read more on the latest news from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park fortnightly in the Newham Recorder


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