Sandwell Aquatics Centre opens its doors to mark 100 days until Commonwealth Games

Sandwell Aquatics Centre is now officially open and ready for the Commonwealth Games this summer.

Paralympic medalist Ellie Simmonds OBE celebrates 100 days until the Commonwealth Games
Paralympic medalist Ellie Simmonds OBE celebrates 100 days until the Commonwealth Games

To mark 100 days until the start of Birmingham 2022, athletes and administrators visited the only purpose built venue for the games.

Olympic medal winning diver Daniel Goodfellow, who will be competing for England in the pool, was impressed the 5,000 seater arena.

He told the Express & Star: "This is an amazing facility, the best in the country, it has more facilities than where the GB team train in Leeds.

"The atmosphere in here will be incredible, we do not get to perform that often in front of a crowd this size."

He added: "What I am really excited about is all the local children who will be able to use these incredible facilities in the future, there is no reason why there should not be an Olympic medal winner from this area in years to come."

Birmingham 2022 board member and eight-time paralympic swimming medallist, Ellie Simmonds, originally from Aldridge, said: "I would have loved a place like this to train in when I was younger.

Swimmers use the 50-metre pool for the first time

"There are only 100 days left before the Games and it is all starting to feel very real now, I urge anyone interested in sport to try and get tickets for the world class sport on offer."

The new aquatics centre will benefit generations of youngsters after starring in the Commonwealth Games.

The £73 million centre in Smethwick opened its doors to athletes and Birmingham 2022 administrators to mark 100 days to the sporting extravaganza.

After the games have finished, sections of the 5,000-capacity seating will be removed and there will be other sporting pitches incorporated into the giant sporting venue.

State-of-the-art swimming facilities at Sandwell Aquatics Centre

Sandwell Council's director of regeneration Tony McGovern said: "This will be the best community sporting venue in the country when it is completed.

"It is so exciting to see this world class sporting venue open and ready for the Games in a 100 days time.

"This has been a wonderful partnership between so many different agencies and our construction partners Wates. This place will have a real legacy for years to come and is already acting as a catalyst for regeneration in the area."

The state-of-the-art Olympic size 50m swimming pool, diving boards and water polo pool, was open to swimmers who praised the quality of the water used with many saying world records could be broken in the arena.

Director of regeneration and economics for Sandwell Council Tony McGovern is delighted with the new centre

Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022, said: "We can get a sense of what the atmosphere will be like during the Games in this place. It is great to see the kids from the local swimming clubs using the pool already.

"It is great, this is our only new build sports venue in Sandwell, you can see how much this place means to the team in Sandwell, they have delivered a world class venue on time.

"Despite challenging circumstances the team here have delivered a world class sporting venue. This is a 50 or 60 year facility and the build quality, it is not just about the games it is about providing a sporting venue for local people."

The latest tranche of tickets for sporting events have been released and Mr Reid is hoping for a sell out.

He said: "We are up to 1.1 million tickets sold and we have 400,000 tickets going on sale, every sport will be available for sale now and I urge people to apply and who knows they might get a ticket to one of the in demand venues like the Aquatics Centre."

Three swimming clubs have merged to create the new Sandwell Aquatics Team and head coach Raj Singh believes the centre will attract new swimmers to the club.

"I've not been here before and am absolutely blown away by it, the scale is incredible.

"The Commonwealth Games will raise the profile of swimming, diving and water polo and hopefully more people from the area will join the club and take up swimming."

On Saturday, April 30 Sandwell Aquatics is holding an open day at the centre with water polo demonstrations in the morning, time trials in the afternoon and a gala racing event in the evening.

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