Setting the Stage for Swimming Glory
A quartet of Edinburgh swimming stars had a sneak preview of their future competition venue when they took a special tour of the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
The landmark venue, currently undergoing a £37m refurbishment, is due to reopen to the public in early spring 2012, the year of the Olympics.
The four Edinburgh swimmers with Commonwealth Games and Olympic aspirations - Craig Hamilton, Craig Benson, Craig McNally and Dan Wallace, all from Warrender Baths Club - were shown around the refurbishment project by GRAHAM Construction.
Champion distance freestyle swimmer Craig Hamilton, 19, is setting his sights on winning a place in the British Olympic Swimming squad for London 2012.
Craig, who is currently on a sports scholarship at Louisiana State University in the USA, said: "It was brilliant being able to train at the RCP's 50m pool knowing that so many legendary swimmers had competed there in the Commonwealth Games. It's going to be great to swim there again when it reopens as a new, improved facility."
Sixteen-year-old Craig Benson said: "The Commonwealth Pool is an iconic piece of sporting history in Scotland. For me, it has played host to my training for two years and it was at this pool where I won seven gold medals at the Scottish national age groups. I have also broken several records across my career here, so for me this pool has a strong personal attachment and I am looking forward to seeing the refurbishment completed."
Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener for the City of Edinburgh, said the refurbishment is moving along "apace".
"The giant scale of this project is illustrated by such staggering statistics as the use of more than 400,000 tiles in the build. We're more than halfway through this major renovation now and excitement is already building ahead of the RCP welcoming back the crowds in 2012, when we'll also be the proud hosts of the British Olympic swimming squad as they make their final training preparations for the London Games."
The refurbishment will bring:
- a 50m, eight-lane pool for community and specialist swimming use with a boom capable of subdividing the pool into two areas
- a re-orientated 25m diving pool up to 5m deep with moveable floor which can be used for swimming when not in use for diving
- a dry dive facility including trampoline and springboards to allow divers to practise out of the pool
- a 25m pool with moveable floor to accommodate warm-up provision, swimming lessons and informal play utilising pool toys
- new dry soft play facilities
- a refurbished and expanded gym and fitness studios
- a refurbished and redesigned changing village, meeting and conference rooms.
- An update report on progress with the RCP refurbishment will be considered by councillors at a meeting of the Culture and Leisure Committee on Tuesday 26 April 2011.
Olympic Swimming stars of the future?
All four of these swimmers are aspiring to compete for Great Britain in the Olympic Games (2012 and/or 2016):
- Champion distance freestyle swimmer Craig Hamilton, 19, is setting his sights on winning a place in the British Olympic Swimming squad for London 2012. He is currently on a sports scholarship at Louisiana State University in the USA.
- Craig Benson, 16, currently holds five British Age Group records, 29 Scottish Age Group Records, and 40 East District Records. He was a European Youth Olympic Festival 2009 Finalist in Finland and has been selected for the 2011 World Youth Swimming Championships in Peru and the 2011 European Junior Swimming Championships in Serbia. He competes in 50m, 100m and 200m breastroke.
- Craig McNally, 18, competed for Scotland in the 100m and 200m backstroke at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010. He is the Scottish record holder for 50m backstroke.
- Dan Wallace, 18, swam for Great Britain at the 2010 European Junior Championships and has qualified for the team again for the 2011 championships. He swims in the 200m and 400m individual medley category.