sport

Aquatics Centre set for opening

The public opening of the Olympic Aquatics Centre will be the biggest step taken so far in proving a legacy of the Games to the community.

That's according to London Legacy Development chief executive Dennis Hone.

The centre, which opens on March 1, has undergone a slight makeover since the conclusion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012, with fewer seats and public access to the training pool.

With the Copperbox Arena already hosting a number of sporting events and the north park open to the public, the Aquatics Centre will become another staple of the London 2012 legacy with users varying from local schoolchildren to Olympians such as Tom Daley.

"This will be the venue where people will come in and come with their kids and participate in sports in the Olympic pool," Hone said.

"We have opened the north park to the public and the Copperbox has been open, but we expect this to be one of the most exciting and used venues in the Olympic Park.

"We have got diving events here in April, the European Swimming Championships here in 2016 and they all act as a draw to get people involved in swimming and that is what we want to see happen as a legacy from the 2012 Games."

With two swimming pools and the diving pool, Hone is hoping to inspire young people to follow in the footsteps of Daley, Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps - with the elite athletes opting to use the venue also working in their favour.

He said: "It is very important to us that, through our operators, Greenwich Leisure Limited, we have associations with local schools and that we can enthuse parents to bring their children down here, take part and use the two fantastic swimming pools and the diving pool at the end.

"I think it is also important for us to have elite athletes training here as well. Anyone who lives in the south-east of the country will want to use these world-class facilities. I think they are an inspiration.

"Tom Daley has decided to base himself here and this will be his regular venue for diving; the British diving team are going to train here in the future."

The venue operators are expecting something of a clamour as people look to revisit a location which helped create some of London's strongest memories in 2012 - but it is keeping those individuals hooked which is also key to Hone's legacy plans.

"During the Games, you would have seen the competition pool, but there is still the training pool which is 50 metres - and it can be split in half and we can change the depth of the water," he added.

"We might have the luxury problem that too many people will want to use this facility, but you can book online.

"We want people to come here and have a great experience. We want regular people. We want people to come back time after time."