The centre caters for everyone from adults, families, kids and leisurely swimmers to competitors, fitness fanatics and Olympic champions. It offers two 50m pools, a diving pool with boards and platforms up to 10m, a dry diving zone, a state-of-the-art gym, a cafe and a crèche. The competition pool has 10 lanes and is upto 3m deep, making it ideal for confident and experienced swimmers. For families, leisurely swimmers and beginners the training pool is an 8 lane pool split into two areas and it is just 1.2m deep.
The training pool has tables and chairs overlooking the pool for those that want to stay dry but see loved ones take a dip. The diving and competition pool have viewing stands at each side - where so many people cheered and screamed for their countries in 2012.
Located in Stratford in East London, you can get there by tube (Central, Jubilee), DLR, overground, bus and car, there are lots of parking spaces available and it's just a short walk from each one, and it's well signposted.
I took my 7 month old daughter there on a recent trip to the UK. It's such a great community area with the Olympic park - which has lots of green picnic space, play areas, interactive fountain and games - and Westfield Shopping Centre - with 100's of stores, bars and restaurants - next to it, so you can make a full day of it.
There is a cafe in the entrance selling drinks, coffee, sandwiches and snacks for those waiting for swimmers, or for those who just want a good coffee, overlooking the Olympic park.
Entrance to Westfield just by Aquatics Centre
You can just turn up, but it's recommended that you book a time slot as places full up very quickly - some of the times I tried to go were already full, so it's definitely worth booking a few days in advance to ensure you go when you want. You can book here.
The best thing about having a set number of swimming places is that it keeps it a much safer and fun environment, as there is a controlled number of people in the pool at one time. I'm sure we have all been to pools where you can barely move, let alone swim. It meant that I could have space to play with my daughter, and not worry about flailing arms and splashing from others.
Being an Olympic training pool there are contests and events taking place so be sure to check the website before turning up, to ensure you can swim that day.
For such great facilities, it is very low cost being just £3.50 (off peak) and £4.50 (peak) for a one-off entry and kids under 3 going free. There are different costs and memberships depending on what you want to use it for and how often, you can see prices here. They offer classes for people of all abilities and experiences. If like me, you are just visiting for a one off visit, they have a useful stand in the foyer selling reasonably priced swimming nappies, goggles and other swimming accessories.
The facilities are really looked after and it feels really clean and safe. The changing rooms are massive, and cater for every need, they have group rooms, single rooms and parent rooms with change tables for the little ones. There are plenty of toilets, lockers, showers and hair dryers. Being on my own with a baby, pram, baby bag, swimming bag etc, I did at times struggle to juggle everything, however, the staff were super helpful with one lady helping me to put my stuff in the locker and take the pram to the pram park room.
Seating by training pool
The pool is heated to a perfect temperature, warm but not bath like. We had lots of fun and the life guards are attentive and friendly not taking their eyes off everyone in the pool. They only have steps built into the side, so trying to get out whilst holding a wiggly wet baby wasn't easy, seeing my dilemma the life guard offered to hold my daughter whilst I got out of the pool. Again, just great staff going that extra mile to make the experience really enjoyable.
I loved the pool and my daughter had loads of fun, so much in fact she fell asleep as soon as we left so I could enjoy a coffee. I no longer live in London but if I did, it would certainly become a regular activity for us. I was really impressed with the facility - plus it was kinda cool to swim in a same pool that Olympians had graced, Tom Daly even uses it as his training venue.
Exhausted after her splashing
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