The London Aquatics Centre

Sport and fitness Stratford
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(3 user reviews)
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 (© Katy Dillon)
© Katy Dillon
 (© Katy Dillon)
© Katy Dillon
 (© Katy Dillon)
© Katy Dillon
 (© Anthony Charlton)
© Anthony Charlton

Paralympian Liz Johnson lays the centre’s last tile

The impressive Aquatics Centre, one of the 2012 Olympic Games’ iconic venues, is now open to the public. Located in the south-east of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, between the Stadium and Stratford City the pool is affordably priced for non-Olympians, although you may spot some famous faces: it’s Tom Daley’s new training ground.

Designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid, the building features a huge, wave-shaped roof – steel and glass on the outside, treated timber within – which rests on three concrete supports. The temporary 42m stands for Olympic spectators have been replaced with huge glass windows on either side, providing unexpected views of London landmarks including the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf and, looming in the foreground, the Arcelormittal Orbit.

Inside there is a 50m-competition pool with seating for 2,500 on concrete terracing, a 25m diving pool, (with 1m, 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m platforms and 1m and 3m springboards) and, hidden underground, another 50m pool, used for warm-ups during the Olympics. The three pools can be split using movable floors and booms to create a further four swimming areas. Altogether they hold a massive 10 million litres of water and are lined with 180,000 tiles. The centre also features a dry-land dive-training area with a trampoline, springboards, foam pits and harnesses, and a 50-station state-of-the-art gym.

Venue name: The London Aquatics Centre
Address: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
E20 2AQ
Transport: Stratford Tube/DLR/Overground
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

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Laura B

Great facility, not such great cleaning and maintenance! The pool is lovely and rarely very busy, meaning even if you want a nice casual swim there is plenty of room. The diving pool also makes for some good entertainment, and is available to the public for certain sessions - looks terrifying! The changing rooms are often dirty and broken things not repaired. The showers are automatic, which means they don't come on when you want them to, or turn off when you want to wrap in your towel! There is a training pool in addition to the large competition pool which can be adjusted to make it shallower - great for kids sessions. They also run inflatable obstacle course sessions, which look AMAZING. Even if you are a grown up...


Having not been able to visit the Aquatics Centre during the special summer of 2012, I finally made the splash 4 years on by swimming in the competition pool. The entry requirement was that you could perform a recognisable stroke for 100m. This must be the closest I've felt to being an Olympian, though the times on the prominent clock quickly dashed that delusion. 

Having gone at 10 am on a Friday there was plenty of space for the casual swimmer. In this regard the Olympics have delivered their sporting legacy for the local area. The only drawback was that the changing rooms and showers were quite basic. 

Joseph S

A year later than the TO review this OUTSTANDING pool has changed in only one respect: the south facing windows have been covered in a blue coating to minimize glare from sunlight. The bare windows were apparently making things difficult for lifeguards and competitive swimmers. Truth be told, it's a mixed blessing as the rays of sunshine cutting through gave the whole place a very exotic feel. Like being in a tropical house!

Changing rooms are expansive and regularly cleaned. However, I'd be more rigorous in terms of hygiene. Danish,and German pools I have visited are a good model. For example, people have to leave outdoor shoes in lockers outside the pool changing area and it is compulsory to thoroughly shower (naked) before entering the pool. Good graphics rather than wordy instructions are the key.

Showers are okay but not always functioning correctly in either the communal open area, or the rather tedious shower cubicles (open plan is better)for each sex.

Always check opening times and availability for the general public on the website. The pool is managed by 'Better'