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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: A Sneak Preview of the Aquatics Centre

Eighteen months after the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre has grown up and lost its water wings (the temporary seating added for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games), and it’s all set to open on Saturday. We were given a sneak preview inside; and here’s what to expect.

World-class Pools

The revamped Aquatics Centre offers three pools: the Competition pool for competent swimmers, the Training pool for fun and family, and the Diving pool for all you budding Tom Daleys.

The Competition pool is the standout feature. It’s 50m long with 10 lanes, and has a moveable floor (it’s set at 3m in depth during competitions for maximum speed) and booms, enabling it to be split up and used for the likes of water polo matches.

Set at a toasty 28.5 degrees Celsius, the Training pool is a great place for kids to have fun while learning the ropes. At weekends and during school holidays it’s equipped with a floating inflatable assault course of jumps and climbs. The 50m pool also features moveable flooring so it’s a safe and comfortable place to learn.

The Diving pool is unsurprisingly the facility of choice for Tom Daley, who you may be lucky enough to see training here. Boasting platforms 1m to 10m high and pairs of springboards measuring from 1m to 3m, this is the perfect place for mastering the acrobatic sport – this pool will be used solely for diving lessons and courses.

This pool will have the world’s eyes on it once more during the third leg of the FINA Diving World Series, which sees the best divers battle it out for the prestigious title of World Series champion in April.

Stunning Visuals

The glass sides allow privileged views of the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Olympic Stadium from the pools and stands – there are 2,500 seats here, with an extra 1,000 available during major competitions.

The venue itself, with its wave-like roof, is already iconic; and having lost its temporary seating its beautiful flowing curves are now uninhibited. Visitors just wishing to see inside can explore the various facilities on tours available from this weekend onwards.

Have Fun, Learn and Keep Fit

As well as instructed diving lessons, you can take part in courses for water polo, synchronised swimming, triathlon and sub aqua diving as well as book personal swimming tuition. Fitness fanatics who prefer to stay dry can make use of the fully equipped gym.

Although booking is recommended – and essential for most lessons and courses – you can just turn up on the day for a swim. Pre-booking is, however, required for a swim during the opening weekend.

Why Should I Visit?

It’s not often you get the chance to swim in the wake of the world’s best at the most iconic of aquatics centres. Relive moments from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, all at a price competitive to other London leisure centres – an adult ticket costs from £4.50, children’s tickets are a snip at £2 upwards, while members can make use of discounted rates.

The Aquatics Centre is also just a few steps from other Olympic Venues: The Olympic Stadium, the Lee Valley VeloPark, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and the Copper Box Arena – the latter is already open to the public, while the others are opening soon. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a whole is being revitalised with open spaces, waterways and gardens to discover.

Another of East London’s major attractions, Westfield Stratford City, is also nearby. Here you can spend a few pounds in the shops after working off a few pounds in the pool.