DIVE in and take advantage of the swimming facilities Stratford has to offer.
That was the message from two-time Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington when she visited the town’s leisure centre earlier this week.
The Bridgefoot centre is currently undergoing a £5 million refurbishment and as part of that, the main swimming pool is currently closed off to the public.
But a temporary pool – provided as part of the British Gas Pools4Schools programme – has been set up.
And 25-year-old Rebecca, who retired from competitive swimming in 2013, was keen to encourage everyone to get involved as she officially launched the pool on Wednesday (February 4).
Speaking to The Observer, she said: “Swimming has played a major role in my life but whether you’re four, 24, 44 or 84, it’s a great way of keeping active and with these facilities at your fingertips I would urge people of all ages to take advantage.
“In places such as Coventry, pools are closing down for good and what’s great here is they’re taking the time not only to refurbish the pool and come back bigger and better, but they’ve also put in the temporary pool, which means around 2,000 people a week don’t miss out.
“Having the temporary pool means people can continue to swim, play water polo, have lessons and do loads of different activities.
“Everyone involved with the revamp is trying to inspire the community so I really hope they have felt the benefit of that.
“It seems to me that everything here – including the temporary pool – is being done with a view to try and get people active and I would encourage the residents to play their part by taking advantage of these facilities.”
Rebecca, who won gold in the 400m and 800m events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and a further two bronzes at London 2012, was joined on her visit by Team GB swimmers Rebecca Turner, Dan Fogg, Roberto Pavoni and Rachael Kelly.
And pupils from Dunnington Primary School were given a respite from their usual swimming lessons as they joined the pros in the pool for a series of relay races and water polo competitions.
The day’s activities also saw the youngsters quiz the swimmers during a special question and answer session.
General manager of Stratford Leisure Centre, Gareth Wagg confirmed the refurbishment was progressing nicely.
He added: “Swimming is such an inclusive sport locally that closure would affect everyone so to keep swimming in our community has been really important.
“We have invested heavily in the temporary pool and are working in partnership with Stratford District Council so the leisure centre can become a great place for everyone from families to individuals to keep active and improve their personal well-being.”
The refurbishment is expected to be completed by September.
Visit www.stratford.gov.uk or www.everyoneactive.com for further information.
Two time Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington pictured here in Stratford Leisure Centre’s temporary pool with Dunnington Primary School pupils Daniel Radbourne, Sam McClenahan, Logan Tovey-Gullachsen, Olivia Robinson, Joe Cull, Neve O’Donohue, April Hobday, and Chloe Jones (s).