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The exterior of Manchester Aquatics Centre on Oxford Road, Manchester.
The exterior of Manchester Aquatics Centre on Oxford Road, Manchester.
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Oxford Road

Manchester Aquatics Centre


Manchester Aquatics Centre is open once again, following an 18-month closure for an extensive refurbishment and upgrade. The new centre is smarter, more accessible, and crucially, more environmentally-friendly.

A total of 1006 solar panels now cover the roof (and there’s a battery system that allows solar energy to be stored for use on cloudy days). Inside, the entire building has been refurbished to bring it back to its best. There’s new seating in the spectator stands, new moving floors in the pools, new changing rooms, and a new cafe. It first opened in 2002 for the Commonwealth Games so it was due an upgrade.

The layout is much the same with its dividable 50m pool plus diving pool and a training pool on the lower level (not yet reopened). The biggest difference for swimmers is the replacement of the children’s pool and slide with a waterpark-style splash playground for under-fives. It’s not as exciting for older kids as the original waterslide but it does a better job at gradually getting little ones confident in the water (a key part of learning to swim). And they’ll love splashing between the fountains, water shoots and waterfalls.

The other big difference is the expanded gym facilities. There are three new gym spaces (cardio, strength and functional) plus a new class studio. Add to that the new spin studio, the refurbished sauna and steam room, and of course the depth-adjustable pools, and you can see why we think Manchester Aquatics Centre is one of the city’s best fitness facilities.

It caters for all levels of swimmer, from complete beginners (children and adults) to professional athletes. You can even learn high diving here at the Tom Daley Diving Academy. With its tiered seating gallery and Olympic-size pool, it’s also one of the best UK venues for major swimming competitions and events.

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