The London Olympic Aquatics Centre in Queen Elizabeth Park is now open to the public after a nearly two-year renovation project. The first public swims were allowed on Saturday, March 1st.
The centre still features 10 million litres of water, a 45m high ceiling, but the building definitely has a different look now.
The iconic roofline has changed; the large wavelike swoop remains to remind all that it is a pool, but the auxiliary seating, which was temporary just for the Olympic Games, is gone, meaning that images of a stingray flying through East London are gone. With the absence of the wings, seating is reduced from 17,500 to a still sizable 2,500.
Among the life-after-2012 assignments for the center include hosting a 2014 FINA Diving World Series Championship and the 2016 European Aquatics Championships, as well as becoming the home for a new high performance diving center that will include Great Britain’s most famous diver: Tom Daley.
But the pool is also open to the general public now that the renovation is complete, from 6:30 AM to 10 PM, you can swim in the same pool that was treaded by greats like Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos, and Ellie Simmonds.
The facility features a 50 meter, 10-lane competition pool, a 50 meter, 8-lane training pool witha bulkhead, a separate diving pool, and a gym, so there is plenty of space for patrons even with the many tenants of the facility.
The demand is expected to be high, so the facility’s operators are encouraging the public to book their swims online. Admission costs £4.50 ($7.53) for adults and £2.50 ($4.19) for children.
This opening is an important step in what has become popular Olympic rhetoric: legacy. After a few Olympics that have left formerly glorious facilities in ruins, which in the era of the internet has tarnished the games’ reputation with the skyrocketing costs of hosting, this has been a big talking point in all bids for future Olympic Games. Countries are forced to show what their plan is after the Olympics, and how they’ll prevent these facilities from simply going to waste.
Rio is still undecided on what they’ll do with their pools, but London’s future in aquatics seems well secured.