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- 03 March 2014 00:00
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The iconic London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has this month opened its doors to the public for the first time since it hosted the world’s top athletes at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The venue designed by internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid features two 50 metre swimming pools and 25 metre diving pool open that the public for the first time.
The 50 metre Games-time competition pool will be available for lane and fitness swimming while the 50 metre training pool will be available for family sessions, fun sessions with inflatables and swimming lessons.
There 25 metre diving pool has boards and platforms up to 10 metres while the venue also features a dry diving zone, a state-of-the-art 50 station gym and a café.
Swimming sessions for the local community start from £3.50, the same as a swim in any other local pool, while there will be swimming and diving lessons and inclusive community sessions.
The venue also has an innovative lift mechanism called a ‘Poolpod’ for people who require mobility assistance.
"After a post-Olympic makeover, London's majestic aquatics centre is now flinging open its doors for everyone to enjoy, whether an elite athlete or enthusiastic amateur,” said Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
"All of the world class sporting venues on the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have secured bright, futures, dispelling fears of white elephants and helping to drive our ambitious regeneration plans for east London.”
In addition to community swimming, the Aquatics Centre will host a range of national and international events including the FINA/NVC 2014 World Diving Series in April and the 2016 European Swimming Championships.
It is also the new home of British Diving.
Since the end of the Games, transformation work has been ongoing at the London Aquatics Centre. The temporary seating stands, which held 17,500 seats, were removed and 2,800m² of glass and eight doors were installed allowing natural light to filter into the pool.
"The action in the Aquatics Centre during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games gave us some great memories and now it’s the public's turn,” said Sport England Property Director Charles Johnston.
"Our investment has ensured a truly iconic facility is open to the community, transforming it into a place where elite and every day swimmers can train side by side."
The London Aquatics Centre is at the entrance to the south of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
More than a million visitors have already enjoyed the north of the Park and Copper Box Arena since they opened in July 2013.
At the end of this month, the Lee Valley VeloPark will open where it will allow visitors to experience all four types of Olympic cycling in one place.
Then in May 2014, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre will open for both community and elite use.
Elsewhere work is currently underway to transform the Olympic Stadium in to a multi-use venue.
It will be the permanent home of West Ham United from 2016 and the new national competition stadium for athletics in the UK.
The venue will also host five matches as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 and the 2017 IAAF World Championships and 2017 IPC World Athletics Championships.