St Albans’ new Westminster Lodge centre opens

OLYMPIC swimming stars caused a splash when they turned out to mark the opening of the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre this weekend.

Members of Great Britain’s London 2012 swimming squad and Olympic gymnast Max Whitlock joined the more than 8,000 people who came along to try out the leisure centre’s new facilities on Saturday.

The day’s events kicked off with the bronze medal-winning gymnast wowing the crowds with an energetic floor display, before the attention shifted to the new 10-lane swimming pool.

Five lucky youngsters, who won a competition run in the Herts Advertiser, became the first people to take the plunge and jump into the pool accompanied by the Team GB swimmers.

The sports stars, including Keri-Ann Payne, Fran Leighton, Craig Figes and Katie Skelton, also coached around 120 children in activities including water polo, synchronised swimming and basic CPR.

And throughout the day more than 500 children sampled the climbing wall, while others took part in the free sports sessions ranging from martial arts to cheerleading with the Saracens Sensations.

Claire James, a spokesperson for Everyone Active who is managing the facility in partnership with St Albans district council, said: “It was great to see children taking part in a range of activities.

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“You could see the enjoyment on the children’s faces.

“It was fantastic to see local people wanting to engage in the facilities on their doorstep. We hope they enjoyed themselves enough to come back and use the facilities on a regular basis.”

She added: “There is a lot more opportunity in this centre for the public to engage in different kinds of activities. I would hope it will get more children more active more often.” And it seemed Olympian Keri-Ann Payne enjoyed herself too, as she tweeted after the event: “Had great fun at #Westminster Lodge opening! Some brilliant kids swimming :)”

For more information on the facilities and membership prices available at Westminster Lodge visit or call 01727 736080.