Team Scotland swimmers and divers aiming for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Game can look forward to competing in a brand new facility, after plans for the £60m Sandwell Aquatics Centre were given the green light.
The only new venue to be built for the Games, it will include a 50m Olympic-sized competition swimming pool, 25m diving pool and studio pool. The leisure centre will have 1,000 permanent spectator seats with additional seating to be added on a temporary basis for the Games to bring the capacity up to 5,000.
After its role as a Games venue, the centre will continue to provide sporting facilities for the local community and will offer a dry-dive facility, 108-station gym, 25-station ladies-only gym, three activity studios, an eight-court sports hall, indoor cycling studio and sauna/steam room and café.
The Londonderry Playing Fields site, which features an urban park, will also have a football pitch with new changing facilities, children’s play area and on-site parking for the centre.
Cllr Bill Gavan, cabinet member for leisure and Commonwealth Games, speaking after councillors passed the plans, said: “This is a very exciting moment for us. We are very excited to have the opportunity to host the diving and swimming competitions in Sandwell for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. This will be a spectacular event and we are looking forward to being part of the Games.
“The centre will provide Sandwell with the opportunity to host a sporting event of international significance and leave a legacy which will give local people access to a world-class leisure facility for generations to come.”
Aquatics was Team Scotland’s top sport at Gold Coast 2018 in terms of medals won with 11 – 2 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze – from 12 athletes. Duncan Scott became Scotland’s most successful athlete at a single Games with six medals in the pool, while James Heatly won Scotland’s first Diving medal since his grandfather Sir Peter Heatly in 1958 and Grace Reid swiftly followed up with victory in the 1m Springboard to win Scotland’s first gold in the sport for 60 years and a first ever female Diving medal.
The Sandwell Aquatics Centre could become the venue for even more Scottish success in the pool come Birmingham 2022.