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Sports students on track to benefit from studying at new Aquatics Centre


Sports students at the University of Wolverhampton are on track to benefit from a new partnership with Sandwell Council with the recent opening of the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

The state-of-the-art community leisure centre for Sandwell and the wider region opens its doors to the public on Monday 24 July having completed its planned transformation.

The only brand-new venue for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Smethwick-based centre will offer a huge range of sport and exercise facilities for everyone in the community. 

Ellis Simmonds with Sandwell Council Leader and Perry the Commonwealth Games Bull at the launch of the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre

Sandwell Council’s delivery partner, Wates, successfully bid for and won the contract to build the facility in 2018, and construction started in 2019. Work continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit and the facility was completed ready for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in summer 2022. 

The final phase of transforming the venue from Games to legacy mode was completed this month (July) and the finished building was handed over to Sandwell Council on 13 July in readiness for opening to the public next week (Monday 24 July). 

Pool shot at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre

Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “Sandwell Aquatics Centre was always designed as a community leisure facility first and tailored for use during the Commonwealth Games, rather than the other way around. 

“The construction has helped create jobs for local people, local apprenticeships and work for local businesses, and delivering the centre has been a catalyst for significant investment in infrastructure projects in Sandwell. 

“The centre – the best leisure facility in the UK at the current time – will be fantastic for Sandwell people as well as the region’s talented swimmers and divers. They will benefit from having a world-class facility on their doorstep for decades to come.

The new facility will be operated by Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) which runs a number of the council’s other leisure centres in Sandwell.

The Aquatics Centre includes a 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool (the only 10-lane swimming pool in the West Midlands), a 10-metre high dive tower and a 25-metre dive pool, along with 1,000 spectator seats.

In addition to this, the centre features:

  • a smaller community swimming pool (20m x 10m);
  • three 150sqm activity studios hosting more than 80 classes per week;
  • two 4-court sports halls (690sqm each);
  • 110-plus station fitness gym;
  • 25-station ladies-only fitness gym;
  • a 33-station indoor cycling studio;
  • a changing village for up to 600
  • a dry diving centre with mini floor trampolines;
  • a sauna/steam room;
  • changing facilities;
  • car parking for over 420 vehicles.

Outside, there will be a new urban park and children’s play area as well as a new outdoor football pitch.

Sandwell Aquatics Centre hosted all the swimming, para swimming and diving events at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games from 29 July to 8 August.

The venue was one of the busiest at the Games with events on all 11 days of competitions. With 66 medal events in total held at the facility, it staged more medal moments than any other Birmingham 2022 venue.

As part of the Commonwealth Games Legacy Plan, which was agreed by Sandwell Council’s Cabinet on 12 July 2023, the council has developed a swimming programme to meet the needs of local residents, schools and swimming clubs, to make sure the local community benefits fully. Sandwell has three swimming clubs which have come together to form a new Sandwell Aquatics Club which will based at the centre. 

Future plans will see the 10-metre high dive tower and all the diving boards fully used through a comprehensive diving programme, as well as developing a diving club for Sandwell and the surrounding areas.

Ellie Simmonds OBE, Trustee for United by 2022, the charity that’s dedicated to ensuring the legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games maintains momentum, said: “United by 2022 is thrilled to see Sandwell Aquatics Centre ready to welcome local people. It’s a brilliant example of the long-term, positive impact that the Commonwealth Games continues to have for everyone in the region. 

“I’d have loved a place like this when I was starting out. Whether you’re a budding medal winner or just need a great place to exercise, it’s an amazing facility!”

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP, said: “Learning to swim is a vital life skill and I’m delighted people in the West Midlands will now be able to follow in the footsteps of elite athletes and make full use of Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
“A year ago, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games showcased the West Midlands to the world and created 40,000 jobs and skills opportunities in the area, as well as contributing at least £870 million gross value added to the UK economy. We also are building on its sporting legacy by delivering grassroots pitches and improving tennis courts across the region.

"Alongside this the Government is supporting West Midlands Combined Authority with £70 million to boost jobs and skills, fund cultural and creative projects and improve access for the next generation of sports stars."

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “It’s wonderful to celebrate the reopening of Sandwell Aquatics Centre to the public - after this fantastic venue took centre stage throughout last summer’s spectacular Commonwealth Games.

“I was determined that - beyond the sporting success - the Games should deliver a tangible benefit for local people for generations to come. That’s why I’m so glad to see this first-class facility brought to life for residents to enjoy.

“Thanks to our £70m Legacy Enhancement Fund - a direct result of our successful efforts to persuade Government to enable us to retain the Games budget underspend - I’m delighted that the West Midlands Combined Authority is helping to ensure that the Aquatics Centre will be fully operational and flourishing in the months and years ahead.”

Paul Chandler, Executive Managing Director, Wates Construction Group, said: “It was incredible to see the world-class facilities delivered by Wates at Sandwell Aquatics Centre providing a platform for the world’s greatest athletes to succeed as part of the Commonwealth Games last summer. But I am even prouder of the legacy we leave behind for the local community and the wider region.

“Sandwell Aquatics Centre is the perfect example how the construction industry can deliver far-reaching local value and opportunity through improved health and wellbeing, local employment, skills and economic investment. Not only will the Centre inspire thousands of local people to participate in sport and exercise, at all levels, for generations to come but our presence in the local area since 2018 has also enabled us to spend a total of £45.2million with local suppliers, employ over 50% of our workforce from within a 20 mile radius of the site and create 166 new local jobs.”

James Dale, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “This partnership between the University and Sandwell Council will, without a doubt, benefit our students through access to a world-class sporting venue in the heart of the Black Country.

“We will teach aspects of our School of Sport Degrees from the pool spaces and look to provide an enhanced student experience via the dry side facilities. We are really excited about the opening of the centre and look forward to working with the Council and other stakeholders on increasing the provision of sport and physical activity along with supporting the development of the future workforce for the facility.”

Chairman for Sport England, Chris Boardman, said: “From the global spotlight of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, it is brilliant to now see Sandwell Aquatics Centre open its doors to the public and really kickstart its post-Games legacy. From here, the centre will serve the communities of Sandwell, helping to support the health and wellbeing of those who pass through its doors.”

Anyone interested in courses being offered in the School of Sport should check out the website or register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.    



For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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