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Swim in the wake of Olympic giants at London Aquatics Centre — open this weekend

Lara Atkinson 13 and Kiran Van-Den-Berg 13 from Black Heigh High swimming in the pool. Lara Atkinson 13 and Kiran Van-Den-Berg 13 from Black Heigh High swimming in the pool.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
6:27 PM

The wait is finally over as London’s grandest swimming pool opens to the public this weekend, offering the chance for mere mortals to swim in the wake of Olympic giants.

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The swimming poolThe swimming pool

The elegant wave-like structure saw spectacular feats of athleticism from the likes of Michael Phelps, Rebecca Adlington, Ellie Simmonds and Tom Daley during London 2012.

The focus now, however, is on inspiring a future generation of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, putting beginners side-by-side with the sporting elite such as Team GB diver Tom Daley — who is now based at the centre.

Prices have been matched to the average cost of swimming pools in the local area meaning a session starts from just £3.50 off-peak for an adult and £2.50 off-peak for a junior, rising to £4.50 and £3.50 during peak times.

Peter Bundy, deputy manager of GLL which runs the aquatics centre under brand name Better, said: “It’s an incredible opportunity for Londoners to actually embrace this as their local pool.”

Children from St Angelas and Bonadenture Sixth Form in Forest gate jumping in the pool.Children from St Angelas and Bonadenture Sixth Form in Forest gate jumping in the pool.

Despite a maximum capacity of 450 swimmers, the advice is to book ahead online rather than turn up at the door.

The centre has the capacity to have six 25 metre pools open at one time thanks to a state-of-the-art automated boon system that allows dividers to be raised and lowered automatically along with the floor of each of the three pools.

Even the diving pool, where Tom Daley won bronze, will at times be used for families with the depth reduced.

Once used by the Olympic and Paralympic athletes to practice, the training pool will be where youngsters in Newham, Hackney and other surrounding boroughs will learn to swim.

Venue general manager Gregg HollandVenue general manager Gregg Holland

Venue general manager Gregg Holland said: “It’s the best aquatics centre in the world and to have local schoolchildren to be able to come in and swim in that environment is incredible.”

Dennis Hone, chief executive of London Legacy Corporation, added: “Who knows, maybe in 15 years time we will have future Olympic gold-medallists who are coming out of Hackney or Newham because they have been using this facility and their parents brought them here when they were youngsters.

“That’s what I want to see.”

Visit better.org.uk/londonaquaticscentre to find out more or pick up a copy of the Newham Recorder next week for more coverage on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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