Swim England

A nation swimming

‘World class’ facility in Sandwell Aquatics Centre set to open to public

With the Sandwell Aquatics Centre set to open its doors on Monday 24 July, the public will soon have access to a ‘world class’ facility, following its transformation.

The venue which staged more medal moments than any other during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been converted into a state-of-the-art community leisure centre for Sandwell and the wider West Midlands region.

It hosts a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 10m high dive tower, a 25m dive pool, 1,000 spectator seats, a smaller community swimming pool and much more.

The Aquatics Centre will be operated by Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) on behalf of Sandwell Council.

Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, leader of Sandwell Council, said: “Sandwell Aquatics Centre was always designed as a community leisure facility first and tailored for use during the Commonwealth Games, rather than the other way around.

“The construction has helped create jobs for local people, local apprenticeships and work for local businesses, and delivering the centre has been a catalyst for significant investment in infrastructure projects in Sandwell.

“The centre – the best leisure facility in the UK at the current time – will be fantastic for Sandwell people as well as the region’s talented swimmers and divers. They will benefit from having a world-class facility on their doorstep for decades to come.”

Behind the scenes

In addition to the transformation of the facility, Sandwell Council and Sandwell Leisure Trust have been working closely with Swim England to set up clubs and programmes.

Ever since the announcement of the centre build, there has been huge amounts of work done over the years to merge three clubs – Oldbury, Haden Hill and Warley Wasps.

This work, led by Swim England regional operations manager, Amanda Swan, saw the clubs come together to now form Sandwell Aquatics Club which will deliver swimming and water polo.

There are also future plans for a comprehensive diving programme and development of a regional diving club.

Those who are local and are interested in learning to dive can sign up for the programme, which is due to open in September, with ongoing diving activity set to take place across the summer through tasters, trials and drop in sessions.

Sarah Barrow, Swim England growth officer and the lead on the development of the diving programmes in the West Midlands, said: “So much work has already gone into developing diving in the West Midlands and it’s amazing to see the facilities that will now be available in the region.

“We can’t wait to continue growing the programmes and set up the Sandwell Diving Club to allow athletes to compete and put Sandwell on the map.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested in diving, who lives within the West Midlands, to sign up for the diving programmes or visit one of the many taster sessions that will be taking place.”

Great place to exercise

SLT and the council have also worked with the national governing body to conduct a Full Aquatic Review through Swim England’s business solutions work.

This resulted in some key recommendations for growth opportunities through the Aquatic Latent Demand tool, as well as 30 new swimming teachers being trained through the Institute of Swimming’s swimming teacher recruitment academy to work across the new centre and wider Sandwell Leisure Trust portfolio.

SLT have shown a commitment to completing the Swim England Water Wellbeing accreditation and recently started the process to complete the Environmental Audit on the Aquatics Centre.

With three pool pods, moveable floors and warmer studio pool with privacy blinds, the facility aims to offer an inclusive aquatic environment for those with long term health conditions and disabilities.

Ahead of the public opening, Sandwell Council hosted a celebratory event on Thursday 20 July.

During the event, Ellie Simmonds, Paralympic gold medallist and trustee for United by 2022 – a charity dedicated to ensuring the legacy of Birmingham 2022 maintains momentum – joined Councillor Carmichael to unveil a plaque to mark the occasion.

Speaking at the event, Simmonds added: “United by 2022 is thrilled to see Sandwell Aquatics Centre ready to welcome local people.

“It’s a brilliant example of the long-term, positive impact that the Commonwealth Games continues to have for everyone in the region.

“I’d have loved a place like this when I was starting out. Whether you’re a budding medal winner or just need a great place to exercise, it’s an amazing facility!”