By David Gold

Borough Championship_March_30March 31 - Double world champion Liam Tancock has opened the Six Host Borough Swimming Championships, an opportunity for hundreds of youngsters to test out the pool at the Olympic Aquatics Centre before London 2012 opens.

The British 50m backstroke world record holder got the action underway as hundreds of youngsters aged between nine and 18 from the Host Olympic Boroughs – Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Greenwich, Hackney and Barking & Dagenham – took part in the competition.

It was a unique opportunity for the young competitors to use the 50m pool before Olympic athletes such as American stars Michael Phelps and Dara Torres - if she qualifies - who have claimed a remarkable 28 medals at previous Games between them, do.

Their chance to swim in the Olympic pool was a taste of what is to come after the Games when the Aquatics Centre is made open to the public, with 90 per cent of usage to be for local communities after London 2012.

Waltham Forest claimed the Speedo Six Host Borough trophy ahead of Greenwich and Barking & Dagenham.

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The youngsters competed in freestyle relay, medley relay, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle individual and relay and disability events, which included the 50m backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

The championship was organised by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).

OPLC chief executive Andrew Altman said: "The Aquatics Centre will become a fantastic venue for the community after the Games and the Host Borough Swimming Championships was a taste of things to come.

"The atmosphere was electric and the excitement of the young swimmers was evident as soon as they entered the centre.

"We want all local children to experience this when the centre reopens after the Games.

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"Legacy plans are further ahead than any previous host Olympic city.

"People will be able to enjoy a swim in this spectacular centre for the price of a local swim, and we are working on events programming with GLL to make the most of the world class facility."

GLL managing director, Mark Sesnan, added:  "This is the first of what we hope will be many opportunities for local people to use and enjoy the 2012 Olympic facilities.

"Not only is this a world class venue designed to host international sport, it also aims to nurture sporting talent at grass roots level and encourage healthy living.

"As the legacy operator of the Aquatic Centre, GLL working with the OPLC is committed to increasing sports participation through events like this after this summer's Olympic Games."

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During the championship the British junior synchronised swimming team gave a performance, with the senior team showing off their routine at the end.

"This event gave the local community their first taste of their new swimming facility and we are certain that this pool will stimulate more people to swim more often and inspire a young person to aspire to become an Olympic Champion in the future," said British Swimming chief executive David Sparks.

London is bidding to host the 2016 LEN European Swimming Championships at the Aquatics Centre, one of a number of events the capital could stage in the Olympic Park in the years to come.

The Hockey Centre has already won the right to stage the 2015 European Championships, whilst the 2017 World Athletics Championships will be held at the Olympic Stadium.

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