£38m games pool to be unveiled
The swimming pool for the World Police and Fire Games in Co Down is due to be unveiled later this month in the largest ever investment in indoor sports and leisure in Northern Ireland.
Bangor's £38 million Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex features a 50m Olympic-sized pool which will provide specialist training facilities for elite sportsmen and women.
The World Police and Fire Games take place in August.
North Down councillor Anne Wilson said: "The building has had rather a long gestation period but the wait has clearly been worthwhile. The 50m pool is the first international standard pool in Northern Ireland and in combination with the other elite facilities is amongst the best of its type."
Construction of the pool was announced in 2007 and initially there were hopes it would be ready in time for London Olympics pre-training last year. North Down Borough Council said it would open on March 23. The £38 million investment includes funding from the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure worth £14 million.
A moveable floor and other equipment will allow adjustments to the length and depth of the pool, which can be split into three conventional-sized areas or adapted to allow shallow water aqua aerobics or other watersports. It will be 50m by 25m and contain 10 lanes plus three diving boards at varied heights.
The larger complex includes an eight-court sports hall, fitness and exercise areas, a performer development centre for strength training for athletes, a leisure area including flumes and slides, floodlit 3G synthetic turf pitches and other facilities.
The venue maximises the use of natural light within activity areas and has unique features include 73m long wooden roofing beams imported from Austria.
Northern Ireland's first 50m swimming pool opened to the public in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, last year. It is not Olympic-sized as it is not wide enough.
The World Police and Fire Games are billed as the third largest international multi-sport event in the world. Ten thousand competitors and 15,000 visitors are expected to visit Northern Ireland for the competition from August 1-10.