By Tom Degun

National Aquatic_Centre_DublinMarch 22 - Michael Ring, Ireland's Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, has praised his country's involvement in London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics after Ireland's National Aquatic Centre (NAC) signed up 13 nations to use the facility as part of their preparations for the Games.

The giant facility in Dublin, which was opened in 2003 at a cost of €62.5 million (£52 million/$83 million), boasts a 50 metre pool with two moveable floors as well as a 25 metre international standard warm up pool that is also used for diving.

The South Korea national swimming squad have just completed a pre-Olympic training block at the facility and the American synchronised swim team will visit in April before returning in July and August for further training.

Individual swimmers from the Cayman Islands, Poland, Venezuela and Surinam are already booked in for specialised training at the venue prior to the Olympics and Paralympics while July will see a pre-Olympic water polo tournament featuring Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Germany, Britain and reigning Olympic champions Hungary.

Michael Ring_speakingRing (pictured) said that venues like the NAC, which hosted Ireland's Olympic swimming trials earlier this year, are helping the country maximise the benefit from London 2012 and praised the efforts involved to get the world's top athletes training in Ireland.

"This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of the Committee and the associated agencies, which have been working hard to ensure that Ireland will benefit directly from the Olympics," he said.

"I'm delighted with this news that 13 nations are training at the NAC ahead of London 2012.

"It demonstrates that where we have world-class facilities like the NAC, we are able to able to attract international competitors.

"I would also like to congratulate the NAC and its staff for all their hard work."

Last year, over 825,000 people used the NAC, which is Ireland's third most popular fee paying attraction.

It houses Ireland's biggest individual swimming lessons programme, with over 2,300 participants weekly and over 5,400 members.

Swim Ireland officially launched a high performance unit at the NAC in April 2010 to conduct the training camps for elite swimmers.

It also hosted a number of major events, including the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games and the 2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships.

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