London 2012 Aquatics Centre to open to the public on Saturday
The iconic wave structure of London 2012's Aquatics Centre will this weekend house swimmers from across the country as the pool officially opens to the public.
Offering a striking welcome for visitors entering the south of Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, construction work has seen the building's wings removed - along with 17,500 seats and 2,800 square metres of glass - to transform the Zaha Hadid-designed facility into a sporting legacy.
It now boasts two 50m swimming pools as well as a 25m diving pool with platforms rising up to 10m.
Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), said: "It's a fantastic achievement. We got the facility back from the London Legacy Development Corporation seven months after the Games and within 18 months we are in the facility.
"It was always the intention it would be predominantly the public in here and, now and then, elite events and that's the mix we have been trying to achieve."
Fitness and lane swimming will be available in the competition pool's 10 lanes, which measure a depth of three metres and make use of two moveable booms and a moveable floor.
Through a short walkway, past the centre's neon yellow lockers, swimmers can also make use of the 50m, eight lane facility used for training by 2012's elite athletes, for family sessions, school swimming lessons and inflatable, Aquasplash fun.
The east London offering will also be the new hub for British Diving with Team GB star Tom Daley honing his technique on the boards this Monday.
Gregg Holland, venue manager for operators GLL, said the facility offered a cafe, gym and creche also on-site and he called the centre "the best swimming pool in the world".
Architect Zaha Hadid said: "It's very special because it's a public sports venue and it has transformed from Olympics to Legacy mode.
"It's in London, and I live in London, so it's very special for me and there's no line between who can use the Aquatic Centre and who can't - it's for the public."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "We promised the former Olympic and Paralympic venues would have long-term legacy use and we have delivered.
"Now local communities and visitors alike can come and swim in this amazing new venue."
>Swim sessions start from £3.50.
>The centre officially opens on March 1.
>During the opening weekend, it will be open from 9am until 5pm, then opening between 6.30am to 10pm.
>To book a session, go to better.org.uk/londonaquaticscentre.
FOR teenage swimming sensation Amy Marren, who competed in the London Aquatics Centre during the 2012 Paralympics, she said taking the Stratford pool was like "coming home".
The category S9 athlete, who was cheered on by a home crowd during the 100m backstroke, and both 400m and 50m freestyle events, was born in Newham and said the facility would be a boost for the east London patch.
"Newham is a borough where there aren't a lot of swimming clubs and this is something that will always help kids get involved," she said.
"The centre is not just for elite people, anyone can access it to learn to swim or dive.
"How amazing is it to have swam where the best athletes in the world have swam?
As she prepared for qualifying for European and Commonwealth competition, Amy recalled her own memories of the Games.
"There were tears of joy, tears of sadness and just the overall experience - one I am going to treasure for the rest of my life."