ONE of the UK’s leading divers has hailed facilities at the new Royal Commonwealth Pool as among the best in Britain as the venue prepares to host the Fina World Diving Series.
Sarah Barrow, who finished fifth with teammate Tonia Couch in the ten-metre synchro at the London Olympics, praised the overhauled complex after visiting the pool yesterday for the first time since last year’s grand reopening.
However, the 24-year-old said it was a “shame” that Edinburgh, rather than Glasgow, would be hosting next year’s Commonwealth Games diving competition, with elite divers to miss out on being in the thick of the action.
Event organisers have predicted near sell-out crowds for the three-day, world-class meet starting on Friday.
Barrow will familiarise herself with the venue over the next 48 hours before competing alongside Olympic bronze medallist and drawcard Tom Daley.
The Commie now boasts a state-of-the-art 25-metre diving pool with moveable floor after the £37 million refurbishment completed last year.
Barrow said she was impressed with the pool’s upgrade compared with her first visit for a junior nationals a decade earlier.
She said the redesigned diving pool shape, the spiral stairs to access the higher platforms and the light-coloured floor were the distinctive features of the remodelling.
Barrow said: “I remember when I first came to Edinburgh, the steps were actually detached from the board. That was a bit scary.”
The Fina World Diving Series is a warm-up for next year, when the Dalkeith Road facility hosts diving for the Commonwealth Games. Barrow said she was looking forward to the Commonwealth Games, but added: “The pool’s in Edinburgh and the Games are in Glasgow, so I’m not really sure how that is going to work. But it’s good to have a little practice before the Games – I’m sure we’ll be up a few more times as well.
“It’s a bit of a shame really that it’s not [in Glasgow]. It’ll feel like a normal competition rather than the Commonwealth [Games].”
Edinburgh’s round of the Fina World Diving Series will be the first time Daley and the rest of the British team have competed at international level since the London Olympics.
Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festival and events champion, said he expected sell-out crowds to see the world’s elite divers compete this weekend.
Edinburgh Leisure said: “The Royal Commonwealth Pool will be extremely proud to host the diving events of the Games and will be the only venue worldwide that has hosted three Commonwealth Games – 1970, 1986 and 2014.”