As the diving competitions get under way in Edinburgh today, the Royal Commonwealth Pool becomes the only venue in the world to stage Commonwealth Games events for a third time.
Long thought of as “home” by many high-class Scottish swimmers, the “Commie” has also been a much loved venue for the local community, and far beyond, for more than 40 years.
Originally designed and built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, the A-listed venue continued its Games legacy in 1986, when the competitions returned to Scotland for a second time. In 2012, it reopened to the public following a major refit, including the upgrading of the diving facilities to meet world-class standards.
The £37.2 million upgrade created a 50m, eight-lane pool for community and specialist swimming and a 25m diving pool that has a moveable floor which can be used for swimming when not in use for diving. There is also a dry-dive facility including a trampoline and springboards, which allows divers to practice outside the pool.
As soon as it reopened, the Commie’s new facilities were praised by Rebecca Adlington and the rest of the British swimming team, who trained there prior to the London Olympics. Tom Daley then likened the atmosphere at last year’s FINA World diving series event to that of 2012. Praise indeed – demonstrating an early and healthy return on our investment.
Of course, beyond that, this investment has enabled us to continue Edinburgh’s Games legacy by providing generations of swimmers and divers of all ages and abilities the springboard (excuse the pun) to hone their skills in a world-class facility.
Indeed, Team Scotland’s only divers, 17 year-old Grace Reid and 16-year-old James Heatly, both qualified for Team Scotland’s aquatics squad following years of training and development at the pool with the Edinburgh Diving Club, founded way back in 1971.
It was entirely fitting, then, that Grace should carry the Queen’s Baton into the pool during its memorable trip around Edinburgh. There she was greeted by James and his grandfather, Sir Peter Heatly, himself a diving gold medallist at three successive Commonwealth Games during the 1950s.
The wonderful response at the RCP was matched along the length of the route with thousands of residents and visitors taking to the streets to welcome the Baton to Scotland – a clear indication as to just how warmly the Games will be received here in Edinburgh, as of course they have been in Glasgow itself.
I am confident that this spotlight on diving as part of Glasgow 2014 will not only encourage a new surge of young people to use the facilities, but help to inspire interest in sport generally across the city for years to come.
• Steve Cardownie is the city’s festivals and events champion.