A unique system to improve swimming pool access; designed for those who are disabled, less mobile or pregnant has become an early legacy of the London 2012 Games.
Fittingly, one of the first recipients of the Poolpod - a innovative lift mechanism that fits to the side of swimming pools - will be the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, which will shortly undergo transformation to become a new swimming facility for London.
London 2012 Paralympic swimmer Susie Rodgers today endorsed the Poolpod, which launched today at Mile End Park Leisure Centre,Tower Hamlets, where it has been trialled.
Triple bronze medallist Susie Rodgers said: “London 2012 was fantastic for raising awareness of disabled sport and the introduction of the Poolpod will add towards the legacy of the Games by improving access to the water for everyone in a sport I owe so much to.”
Poolpod, which is the result of a design competition run and led by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and supported by the London Legacy Development Corporation, is a submersible and mobile pool platform enabling independent access – removing the need for a hoist or swing. It has been designed with the ability to be used at any pool.
A platform lift enables less mobile people to remain standing as they enter the water, while a submersible wheelchair allows users to transfer from their own wheelchair in the privacy of the changing room. Once in the Poolpod, the user activates the system by using an electronic wristband. The system, which remains level at all times, takes around 20 seconds to lower the user into the water and can be stowed neatly at the side of the pool.
The ODA, which was committed to finding a new way of improving poolside accessibility as part of planning conditions granted for the construction of the Aquatics Centre, oversaw a review of existing products before launching an international design competition to challenge the market. Three shortlisted companies were funded by The London Marathon Charitable Trust to further develop their ideas. The winning design was then selected and received £280,000 from the Trust to create a prototype, which has been successfully tested at Mile End Leisure Centre in East London. The working model has already won a ‘New Product of the Year’ award at NAIDEX National 2012 - the UK’s largest disability, homecare and rehabilitation event.
British Swimming has now bought seven Poolpods, which are being installed in a trial scheme across England. One of the first will go to Stoke Mandeville Stadium – the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games and the UK’s national centre for disability sport. Separately, LLDC has placed an order for a permanent Poolpod to be used in the Aquatics Centre following its transformation after the Games. The venue will provide activity programmes for all levels of swimming ability in all aquatic disciplines.
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the ODA and Legacy Corporation, said: “The benefits from London 2012 were never only about the new venues and infrastructure. Using the power of the Games, we have introduced a step change in making swimming pools more accessible. Through challenging companies to design a better, more independent way of getting people into the water, this excellent new system clearly demonstrates the legacy value ODA has built into all aspects of London 2012, in expanding future sporting and leisure participation and delivering opportunities for jobs and growth to UK-based businesses. I am delighted that the Poolpod can be use in the Aquatics Centre.”
John Bryant, Chairman of The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “Swimming is one of the best ways of keeping active and it is wonderful to have been able to play a part in the creation of a product that will open up access to pools for people with a range of requirements. Lifts and hoists can often be cumbersome and even off-putting for those wanting to get into the water independently and with minimum fuss. We are confident from trials that the Poolpod is a fantastic piece of British-designed kit that will be seen as a natural option for leisure centres up and down the country.”
Kate McKnight, Head of Facilities Development at British Swimming, said: “The introduction of a new portable system for getting people into the water will be a great asset for increasing participation in swimming, particularly among those who feel swings and hoists are obtrusive. That this has only been made possible through the London 2012 Games is a wonderful example of creating a meaningful legacy.”
Chris Holmes, Director of Paralympic Integration at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: “Through staging a sensational Paralympic Games we wanted not just to inspire the world but to motivate everyone to get behind ensuring that every disabled person has the same opportunity to access sport and leisure as their able-bodied counterparts. Poolpod clearly delivers in this area, not just accessibility but usability and a smooth, inclusive experience for everyone to enjoy swimming”
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “I am proud that Tower Hamlets is home to the first Poolpod in the country and that we are leading the way in ensuring sports are accessible to all. London 2012 has inspired the whole nation to get active and this new addition to our excellent facilities will keep the momentum going.”
Notes to Editors:
- Download Poolpod images here
- Group photo picture caption: (l-r) Aquatics Centre ODA Project Sponsor Ian Crockford, former ODA Principal Accessibility Manager Margaret Hickish, London Marathon Trust CEO David Golton, Poolpod MD Josh Reid, Legacy Corporation head of sport and healthy living Karen West, ParalympicsGB triple bronze medallist Susie Rodgers, Tower Hamlets Councillor Abdul Asad, Amateur Swimming Association Head of Facilities Kate McKnight.
- Poolpod was created and is manufactured by Core Pd Ltd, based in Glasgow.
- Susie Rodgers competed in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle, the 50m butterfly, the 100m backstroke and the 4x100m freestyle relay at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She won bronze medals in the 100m freestyle and the relay, and finished third in the 400m freestyle, setting new European records in both the heats and the final, to win ParalympicsGB one hundredth medal of the Games.
London 2012 Aquatics Centre:
- During the Games the Aquatics Centre held up to 17,500 spectators
- After the Games there will be 2,500 permanent seats, expandable to 3,500 seats
- 10-lane competition pool (50m x 25m x 3m) and an eight-lane training pool (50m x 21m x 2m)
- Separate diving pool (25m x 21m x 5m) with 1m, 3m, 5m, 7.5m and 10m diving boards
- Moveable floors for all pools. The two 50m pools have booms to allow depths and heights changes
- A diving area for dry-land training
- Flexible space for a commercial or community facility
- Accommodation for changing, meeting rooms, seminars and sports science space
- Crèche and café
- Operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) after the Games on behalf of LLDC