Team England stars get first look at new Commonwealth Games venue

Members of Team England for this summer’s Commonwealth Games got their first taste of the brand new Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham ahead of this weekend’s test event.

The athletes were invited by the Birmingham 2022 commission to visit the only new venue for the games which will host eleven days of swimming, para-swimming and diving events from the 29 July to the 8 August.

England’s swimmers were given a tour of the new facility and became one of first to test out the pool after the buildings completion in April.

The test event taking place at the £73 million building this weekend will be the first time that the venue has been used in a competition format.

“It makes it feel so much more real”

Speaking about the arena, Team England’s Mike Jones said: “The venue is absolutely phenomenal, it’s way bigger than I anticipated. It’ll be great with a packed out crowd here and I imagine the noise is going to be incredible. I can’t wait to get racing here!”

The para-swimmer and 2016 Rio Olympic Champion says that seeing the venue has shone a fresh light to him ahead of this summer’s games.

“It makes it feel that so much more real and a lot closer to actual event happening. It’s brought the entire Commonwealth games into a fresh light for me.”

England’s Jamie Ingram will make his Commonwealth debut this summer and is looking forward to competing in the new arena.

He said: “It’s really nice venue, it’s a massive pool and there’s so many seats around the place. It’s great to have a brand new pool as we don’t get to swim somewhere brand new very often”.

After seeing the pool for the first time Ingram’s thinks his Commonwealth Games call-up is finally sinking in, adding: “I think it finally does feel real, it felt more real when the team announcement came out and now this is like wow.

Now we know where we’re going to be, we can visualise racing here rather than conjuring up an image in your head, you can see it now, it’s going to be so exciting to compete here”.

‘Prep The Pool’ event this weekend

This weekend sees over 300 swimmers given the opportunity to race at the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre, the brand new pool built for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The ‘prep the pool’ event on Saturday will be run in the same style as the opening day of the games, giving the young swimmers a good experience at high level competition in a venue that will become iconic for the sport.

Swimmers from all over the country have been selected with their recorded long course times on the Swim England database between 12 April and 5 December 2021 considered as part of the selection process.

The 13 to 14-year-old swimmers will then be split into six zonal teams with up-to 50 swimmers for each group.

They will take part in two long course pool sessions – one in the Commonwealth Games 10-lane competition pool and the other in the six-lane training facility at Sandwell.

Ahead of the event, Richard Blackshaw, Swim England’s head of Swimming Talent said: “The Prep the pool event on the Saturday will be an outstanding opportunity for our developing swimmers to gain a valuable experience of competing in an environment that will operate the same as a major games. The day will replicate day one of the commonwealth games swimming event.

The Swimmers will relish showcasing their abilities to 3500 spectators on Saturday afternoon and we are honoured to be supporting the Commonwealth Games organising committee to test the competition venue for the first time.”