The Olympic swimming pool, or the “London Aquatics Centre” is just amazing. The venue was originally built for the 2002 London Olympics and has since then become a really popular spot among locals. They offer several family-friendly options, from swimming and diving lessons to inflatable splash areas. This is a summary after visiting a few times as a family.
Intricate route from Stratford station
The pool is located at the end of the Jubilee line, making it quite easy to get to from several parts of London. Walking from the station you seem like a labyrinth the first time. Basically, you need to follow the signs to the Westfield shopping mall, then go one level up and walk through the centre before taking a hard left towards Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park. If you are taking young kids and a pram, I would estimate a good 15 min walk from the station. You will need to take several elevators and it’s often very crowded in and around the shopping centre.
Once in the park, you will quickly notice the iconic Olympic building. Some people compare it with a space ship, and its architecture is certainly very striking. Once inside, it’s fairly easy and 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 as well. 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 10 lanes with seating on the sides. To use this pool you need to be above 8 years old AND be able to 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 do need to be a good swimmer!
- 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.
- 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 competent 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.
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.
The QE II 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 Tumbling Bay Playground. If you haven’t already done so, check out our map of London Playgrounds! For the slightly older kids, The Orbit is very close, if you want to try out the world’s longest tunnel slide (178m). In summer you’ll find a lot of activity and events organised in the park, and it’s also great for picnics.
- You’ll need a pound coin or trolley token for the lockers.
- They have free hair dryers for you to use
- If you come by car and park during the weekdays, the total parking fee is capped at Westfield