Duncan Goodhew opens new St Albans School sports centre

A FORMER Olympic swimming gold medallist made a splash this week when he opened a new �6.6 million sports centre at a St Albans school.

Duncan Goodhew formally opened the new sports centre at St Albans School in the presence of the headmaster, Andrew Grant, and a host of dignitaries including The Mayor of St Albans, The High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, The Dean of the Cathedral and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

The new development, designed by the late David Morgan, a former pupil of St Albans School, includes a 25-metre, six-lane swimming pool, a fully equipped fitness and weights suite with 26 stations and a sports hall with four international standard badminton courts and basketball hoops.

The complex also includes a mirrored dance studio with sprung wooden floor, a climbing wall, and a suite of technical and teaching areas.

At Tuesday’s opening ceremony, Mr Grant described the sports centre as the largest and most ambitious building ever constructed in the school’s 1,064-year history:

He went on: “This wonderful new facility will not only hugely enhance and enrich the opportunities for sport and physical fitness of our own students, but the pool is already in use by local clubs and children from local primary schools from dawn until well after dusk and others are beating a path to our door to use the sports hall, the dance studio and the climbing wall.

“There has been much speculation as to how the legacy of London 2012 is to be secured and I am confident that with this magnificent new building we can make our own small contribution towards that.”

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Among the local clubs taking full advantage of the new facility is the City of St Albans Swimming Club (CoStA) which helped with the testing of the pool and its state of the art electronic timing equipment.

David Lightowler, former chairman of CoStA, said: “By making the facility, almost without limitation outside school hours, available to CoStA, the School has enabled us to increase our membership, and give children, whether pupils at the school or not, the opportunity to benefit from one of the premier facilities in the region.

“CoStA now has access not only to an excellent pool but also training facilities for land training – now seen as essential for competitive swimming – and an ‘endless pool’ to give superior feedback for stroke correction. The feedback from all our members to date has been extremely positive and we are proud to be associated with the facility and its management team.”

Duncan Goodhew, one of swimming’s best-known faces, swam competitively in America as a collegian at North Carolina State University, before he captained the England swimming team in the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley.

He was a also member of the British bobsleigh team at the 1981 European Championships and now spends most of his time as a motivational speaker and author. He was awarded an MBE for services to sport.