The Olympic swimming pool in Stratford, or the “London Aquatics Centre”, is an amazing venue. Originally built for the 2002 London Olympics, it has become a popular spot among locals and visitors from all over London. They offer several family-friendly options, from swimming and diving lessons to inflatable splash areas.
You will quickly notice the iconic Olympic building as soon as you get to the park. Some people compare it with a spaceship, and its architecture is certainly very striking. Once inside, it’s fairly straightforward to find the right changing area. We have always used the family changing cabins which are very spacious and have a baby changing table. The facilities are great in general, nice and clean.
The Olympic competition pool
You can choose between two pool sections, divided by a walkway and glass walls. The main competition pool is open for competent swimming and is divided into ten lanes with seating on the sides. To use this pool, you need to be above eight years old and swim at least 100 meters. You also need to be accompanied by a person above 16 years at all times. Note that this pool is 3 metres deep and 50 metres long with no shallow end, so you need to be a good swimmer!
Competition Pool Rules:
- No Under 8’s or Non-Swimmers are allowed in the Competition Pool.
- You must be able to swim 100 metres of a recognised stroke to swim in the Competition pool.
- Sessions are for a minimum of 60 minutes in duration.
The Training Pool
The smaller pools are in a separate section. One side is split into lanes for serious swimmers while the other is home to baby swimming lessons, parents with small children and school swimming lessons. There is a maximum of two children to anyone adult at all times.
The Training Pool Rules
- Under 8’s and non-swimmers under 16 must be accompanied in the water by a competent adult swimmer
- No more than two under 8’s or non-swimmers under 16 to each competent adult swimmer
- The qualified adult swimmer must actively supervise under 8’s and non-swimmers under 16
- Under 8’s and all non-swimmers must remain in shallow water
- We strongly recommend under 8’s and all non-swimmers use armbands and/or an appropriate buoyancy aid
With the movable floor, the training pool will normally be set with one end at 0.8m deep and the other end at 1.2m deep.
Visiting the Olympic Swimming Pool as a family
We have always enjoyed our visits to the Olympic swimming pool in Stratford, the facilities are great, and it’s normally not too many people. The Splash sessions are pre-bookable and have limited capacity. This is great because it means they are not too crowded. Swimmers can enjoy a slide off Tom Daley’s diving board and glide over inflatables in the competition pool. This for just a little more than a swim in your local pool. The staff are friendly, the lifeguards efficient, and it is all spotlessly clean.
Things to do around the Olympic Park with kids
The Olympic Park offers plenty of opportunities for the kids to play after the swim. The Olympic Park Pleasure Gardens is just a 5 minutes walk from the swimming pool, with slides and several different climbing elements. A bit further north in the park, you have the more adventurous Tumbling Bay Playground. If you haven’t already done so, check our map of London Playgrounds. The Orbit is very close for the slightly older kids if you want to try out the world’s longest tunnel slide (178m). In summer you’ll find many activities and events organised in the park, and it’s also great for picnics.
Also, don’t forget about the outdoor Waterworks Fountains nearby. These 195 individual outdoor water jets perfect for kids to cool down and splash around on hot summer-days. Check our article on water play areas in London.
Tips for families when visiting the Olympic swimming pool
- You’ll need a pound coin or trolley token for the lockers.
- Family changing rooms are available
- Book the splash sessions well in advance
- Be aware of the 8-year-old age-limit for the competition pool
- Take advantage of the excellent playgrounds in the Olympic Park