Configuration: 8 lanes x 50 meters plus play pools
Ian Thorpe won enough gold for Australia in the 200o and 2004 Olympics that Sydney named a new pool in his honor. The Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre is an indoor marvel, and we decided to check it out on our second morning in Sydney due to worries about strong morning winds impeding outdoor swimming.
The building is a bit odd looking and hard to appreciate from outside vantage points, but once you get inside it’s breathtaking. A wall of windows on the long side and dramatically sweeping ceiling panels interspersed with clear sections make for a light, airy feel. As at the North Sydney Olympic Pool, you can sit in windows on display for passers-by while admiring the pool.
There’s a larger-than-life picture of the Thropedo slicing through the water in his full-body suit near the entry desk, but otherwise there are no overt homages to the namesake–just a wonderful pool with silky smooth, UV-purified water. Swimming here was an absolute delight. During my backstroke laps, I enjoyed watching the clouds fly by and the weather vanes on the roof spin furiously.
When you finish in the perfectly temperate lap pool, you can then relax on the sun deck, as we opted to do, having the whole place to ourselves. Alternately, there’s a warm-water “leisure pool,” which was popular with families with young children.
As seems to be the norm at Aussie pools, the change rooms lack lockers, so we stashed our gear in little cubbies at the foot of the pool. This enabled us to use a different change room after the swim, and it was more to our liking.
The building design was chosen through a competition in 2001, the winner being Harry Seidler and Associates. Examples of his handiwork are much in evidence in Sydney, and our caps are off to him for his work here. Well done, Harry!