Olympian Hannah Miley says Bangor's Aurora is tops in Europe
Hannah Miley has been to every top swimming event in the world and the bubbly Scot says there are few arenas that compare with that of Bangor's 50m Aurora complex.
Olympian Miley, a Commonwealth Games and European gold medallist, recently competed at the Aurora Centre in the Swim Ulster international meet and would relish a return to the north Down venue.
Miley, a multiple gold medallist at the event, says she was blown away by the complex which the Scot believes should be playing host to more international meets – including major championships.
"I really really enjoyed the event. It doesn't feel like you have spent hours and hours there – because of the natural light coming in the day goes past very quickly and it makes the atmosphere louder," said Miley.
"When I compare it to what we have in the UK I'm jealous, I wish we had a pool like this ... to have something so bright.
"There's a real happiness and a buzz. I've been all around Europe and the only other pool that I think compares to this is in Eindhoven but the thing that it lacks is the natural light because it's very enclosed so as the swimming competition goes on you don't know whether it is night or day.
"I really hope they have more international competitions there and they encourage more to come and race there.
"You could certainly host the European juniors or seniors – it's just about the finance they can put in place to bring big meets here. For me it's going to be very interesting to see just what swimmers can be produced from a place like that.
"There are so many talented Irish young swimmers coming through and hopefully they will have a good Commonwealth Games team and a good European seniors as well.
"I'm really looking forward to the Commonwealth Games. Our trials are in April so that's where I have to qualify. I'm kinda spoiled having had two home events in two years – the London 2012 Olympics and now the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow."
The Aurora will this weekend host the first ever Ulster Age Group and Youth long course championships and Swim Ulster development officer Ruth McQuillan believes it will become a crucial annual event for the young competitors.
"It's great that we now have the opportunity to host our first Ulster Age Groups championships in the 50m pool. There will be around 300 kids every day and they will get a taste of what it is like to swim long course," said McQuillan.
"We see this as one of the most important meets of the year because the young swimmers start to learn all about swimming fast in heats and then returning for finals and having to perform again.
"We had a great international meet with the likes of Hannah Miley there and while it won't be quite the same, we hope to have the same kind of atmosphere at this meet. It's not only important from an experience point of view but it's also a qualifying meet for Ulster squads and it's from this meet that we choose the winner of the prestigious Elizabeth Long trophy for the most promising 11-year-old."