Sandwell Aquatics Centre set to be reborn for community after Commonwealth Games glory

The only newly-built venue for the Commonwealth Games has been declared a huge success.

England's Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher enjoy their moment as Commonwealth champions. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.
England's Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher enjoy their moment as Commonwealth champions. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick has been one of the busiest venues during the Games, with 64 medals either won or set to be won from swimming and diving competitions.

While Australia have dominated in the swimming competitions, fans from all over the country and the Commonwealth were also treated to golden performances from the likes of England’s Adam Peaty and Scotland’s Duncan Scott.

The venue will undergo a change after the Games, with the current seating being removed and the centre being transformed into a multi-purpose sports centre with sports halls, gyms, activity studios and other facilities being installed before it reopens in May 2023.

Thousands of fans enjoy the session of diving at Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

This has meant some parts of the centre still look like they’re being built, with dirt mounds behind the fencing leading to and from the entrance way, while there is also temporary fencing around the outskirts of the centre.

This still hasn’t stopped fans from travelling in on the shuttle buses from the Hawthorns or walking from Smethwick Galton Bridge Railway station, with more than 3,000 people attending recent diving sessions.

They saw Jack Laugher win his second gold medal with Anthony Harding in the synchronised 3 metre springboard and Canada’s Mia Vallee lead the standings after the women’s 1 metre springboard preliminaries.

England's Amy Rollinson during the Women's 1m Springboard Preliminary. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Also competing in the women’s springboard competition was Scotland’s Clara Kerr, who enjoyed vociferous support from her family, who had travelled down from Aberdeen the previous day to watch her compete.

Her sister Tallulah said they were very proud of her, as well as very impressed by the Aquatics Centre.

She said: “We came here today because my sister has been competing in the springboard competition, which was really nerve-wracking, but she did really well and we hope she’ll do well in the final.

“This place is really impressive and good to sit in to watch the action and we’re looking forward to coming back later for the final.”

England's Anthony Harding and Jack Laugher celebrate winning Gold during the Men's Synchronised 3m Springboard Final at Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

The period between the two events saw hundreds of people congregating outside the centre to use the toilet, buy food, drink and merchandise and also take part in activities organised around swimming.

Gemma Kisbey travelled up with her husband and children to watch the event and said it was great to have the opportunity to take her kids to a place like the centre.

She said: “My children are both swimmers and we though that as they are both learning to swim, it was a great opportunity to bring them to see swimming and diving in action. This centre is absolutely amazing and a really proud moment for Birmingham 2022 and I’m happy to be able to bring my children to see this moment.”

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