Sandwell Aquatics Centre, November 2021

By Justine Doody

I have worked for Wates Construction for 27 years and have been involved in many fantastic projects over my time. However, there is one scheme that we are currently working on that has particularly stood out based on my own personal interests. 

Wates were selected as main contractor for the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick back in 2018. After spending a long period in close consultation with numerous stakeholders and working collaboratively with the clients consultants, the final design and costs were agreed, and we started on site in September 2019.

Even though I am not based on this site, I am lucky to get the chance to go out and visit my colleagues on a regular basis and have a good look at how the scheme is progressing. I had previously seen drawings, photographs and even drone footage, however on my first visit to site, I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer size of facility. There has been over 3,000m3 of concrete used in the construction of the pools and 190,000 pool tiles laid !!

The scheme includes 3 separate pools, complete with moveable floors to provide flexibility around the use – from beginners and toddlers needing a shallow pool, continuous depth for competition swimming or water polo, through to the provision of much needed elite training facilities for diving within the Black Country and West Midlands.

The £73m project is due to be completed (first phase for Games use only) in Spring 2022 and will be the host for the diving and swimming events for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

After the Games, we return to site to transform into a state-of-the-art leisure facility providing additional community facilities which will open to the public in May 2023.

Facilities will include:

  • 50m competition pool (with 2 booms to allow flexibility in use)
  • separate 25m diving pool with a 10m dive tower 
  • 20m studio pool
  • permanent spectators seating for 1,000 with an additional 4,000 on a temporary basis for the Games.
  • dry diving centre
  • 3 activity studios
  • sports hall 
  • 108 station gym
  • 25 station ladies only gym
  • indoor cycling studio
  • external grass football pitch with changing facilities 
  • café