Sneaky peek into London 2012’s Aquatic Centre!

The wonderful Olympic Park in London is closed at the moment as it is being transformed into a public park with amazing sporting facilities. This is due to open next year, a year to the day after the opening ceremony – remember that uplifting, bonkers, inspiring show from Danny Boyle? Of course you do!  

However, I was lucky enough to sneak into the park for a tour of the Aquatic Centre, scene of so many brilliant performances, not least from our own Ellie Simmonds. The venue is also building site as they are removing the additional seating which was in 2 ‘wings’ on the side of the whale shaped aquatic centre to house the extra thousands who wanted to see the Olympics and Paralympics.  You can see from the first photo one of the wings facing you and the pool emerging on the right – and the Olympic stadium beyond on the right. 

Aquatic Centre

We started our visit at the practice pool which has the very top end of swimming pool technology as does the whole venue. The pool is heated to 26 degrees and the outside air would be 27degrees. The floor can be raised and lowered to achieve the ideal depth for athletes and the boom you can see in the pool can be moved so that it can form one or two pools. The public will be able to come in for a swim next year and the pool will be split into a children’s and adults’ pool.

Practice pool

We wandered through all the corridors and machinery rooms, admiring the filtration plant where the water is completely cleaned through massive tanks of sand every 4 hours. The areas behind the scenes are spotless and a real insight into the pride taken into the venue by all those who work there.

Filtration tanks

A couple of side windows gave us a really unusual underwater views into the pools. Apparently these were used by the BBC to get their great footage of the swimmers powering through from below.


Before we got to see the main event – the competition pool – there was a photo exhibition showing the stages of building this marvel. This photo shows how they put the roof on first and then dug and filled the pool before putting on the sides. This was one of the first buildings in the Olympic Park to be completed, well ahead of the Games themselves.

Still some way to go!

I was so excited to see the competition pool as I didn’t managed to bag any tickets during the Games themselves but watched it all on the TV and as we walked in through the door the swimmers emerged from I could imagine the roar of the crowd and only just stopped myself from giving a wave! The pool is beautiful and very big, especially in the eyes of a non swimmer!  Behind the pool in the photo you can see the rows of yellow seating  which are being dismantled and taken away. The new wall will fit into the slot in the roof as it was designed to be amended post Games and will emerge as its intended whale like form and be a most beautiful shape emerging from the park.

The competition pool

We all loved seeing the many ‘no swimming’ signs, aimed at the staff who are no doubt tempted to dive in.

The best swimming pool sign!

I stood right by the podium where the swimmers hold themselves ready for the start and could only imagine the tension and the excitement as they look ahead down the lane and wait for the gun.

Marks, get set, GO!

We turned round and saw the looming dive boards including the 10 metre one which is incredibly tall and impressive. I can still see Tom Daley waiting for his second attempt at the  dive he retook and have even more admiration for him now – the lower boards looked quite high enough!  They are beautifully made, curving concrete over a pool which has a special water fountain in it in case a diver gets into trouble, they will be pushed up by the water. More hi tech thinking in this top venue

The diving boards – soooo high!

I’ll be back on my Christmas theme in my next blog but couldn’t resist this one.
Bye for now

It’s over! The greatest show in the world leaves London

When Boris, Mayor of London, handed over the Paralympic flag to the Mayor of Rio, you could almost hear the crowd shout out: ‘ Boris, don’t give it to him’!  We didn’t want it all to end, the fun of hosting the biggest sporting shows in the world had got into our blood and we wanted more.

The final days were wonderful and we made the most of it!  On the final Sunday the wheelchair marathon hit the streets of central London, the closing ceremony was live on the big screen in Trafalgar Square, the Mayor’s Thames Festival had a night parade and fireworks alongside those at the Olympic Park.  Monday could have been a dull day after all that but we had the massive excitement of the victory parade for Our Greatest Team where the Olympians and Paralympians joined together on a 21 float parade in front one million flag waving people. So watch out for a long, long blog post!

The marathon was a great day out in the sunshine with huge crowds cheering on every competitor as they raced past at incredible speeds. I was lucky enough to see both Paralympic GB competitors whizz past – David Weir and Shelley Woods, gold and silver medal winners. 

David Weir half way through




David Weir heading for home


Shelley Woods (yellow racing chair)

The athletes’ parade was a wonderful outpouring of cheer on the streets of London as our heroes, medallist and non medallists, Olympians and Paralympians, went past on 21 floats. They waved, they smiled, they said thank you, they took photos and they tweeted – and so did we! The streets were lined hours ahead of the parade’s arrival and as the floats approached the noise level zoomed sky high. The police were in fine form, high-fiving from the motor bikes with lion mascots on board! We were treated to 2 carnival lions, acrobats and a band and then came the floats and it was brilliant to see our athletes in the flesh.

Crowds gathered early….


Hi fiving the police!


The mascot – ahhh!


GB lions head the parade


Here they come – excitement mounts…


Mo Farrah


Jess Ennis
Clare Balding, broadcasting star with David Weir – hidden!
Johnny Peacock
Boxing heroes Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua
Victoria Pendleton
Lee Pearson and a float full of athletes
Guess who? Tom Daley
Zara Phillips
Ben Ainslie
Kath Grainger


Red Arrows celebrate and end the parade

Missing from the athletes parade was Andy Murray who was continuing the golden spirit by winning the US Open, the first British man to win a Grand Slam since 1936 – well done Andy!

The Mayor’s festival on Sunday ended with an impressive fireworks display over the Thames, matching our exuberant mood, so here are a few shots to sign off with and look out for St Paul’s Cathedral lit up by the rockets!




Bye for now,