Disabled pool access redesigned as early legacy of London 2012

Thursday, 08 November 2012
By Tom Degun

Paralympic triple bronze medallist Susie Rodgers in kitNovember 8 - A unique system to improve swimming pool access for the disabled and less mobile has become an early legacy of London 2012 as the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park in Stratford became one of the first recipients of the Poolpod.

The Poolpod is an innovative lift mechanism that fits to the side of swimming pools and Paralympic swimmer Susie Rodgers, who won three bronze medals at London 2012, today endorsed the new technology.

"London 2012 was fantastic for raising awareness of disabled sport and the introduction of the Poolpod will add towards the legacy of the Games by improving access to the water for everyone in a sport I owe so much to," she said.

Poolpod, which is the result of a design competition run and led by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and supported by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), is a submersible and mobile pool platform enabling independent access while it has been designed with the ability to be used at any pool.

A platform lift enables less mobile people to remain standing as they enter the water, while a submersible wheelchair allows users to transfer from their own wheelchair in the privacy of the changing room.

Once in the Poolpod, the user activates the system by using an electronic wristband.

The system, which remains level at all times, takes around 20 seconds to lower the user into the water and can be stowed neatly at the side of the pool.

The working model has already won a 'New Product of the Year' award at NAIDEX National 2012 - the UK's largest disability, homecare and rehabilitation event.

"The benefits from London 2012 were never only about the new venues and infrastructure," said ODA and LLDC chief executive Dennis Hone.

"Using the power of the Games, we have introduced a step change in making swimming pools more accessible.

"Through challenging companies to design a better, more independent way of getting people into the water, this excellent new system clearly demonstrates the legacy value ODA has built into all aspects of London 2012, in expanding future sporting and leisure participation and delivering opportunities for jobs and growth to UK-based businesses. I am delighted that the Poolpod can be use in the Aquatics Centre."

British Swimming has now bought seven Poolpods, which are being installed in a trial scheme across England.

One of the first will go to Stoke Mandeville Stadium – the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games and the UK's national centre for disability sport.

Separately, LLDC has placed an order for a permanent Poolpod to be used in the Aquatics Centre following its transformation after the Games.

The venue will provide activity programmes for all levels of swimming ability in all aquatic disciplines.

"Through staging a sensational Paralympic Games we wanted not just to inspire the world but to motivate everyone to get behind ensuring that every disabled person has the same opportunity to access sport and leisure as their able-bodied counterparts," said London 2012 director of Paralympic integration Chris Holmes.

"Poolpod clearly delivers in this area, not just accessibility but usability and a smooth, inclusive experience for everyone to enjoy swimming."

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz
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