A group of people celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the National Aquatic Centre

Celebrating 20 years of the National Aquatic Centre

16 Mar 2023
Fergus Hannigan

The Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre has been the home of aquatics in Ireland since opening in 2003. The centre is home to Swim Ireland and Paralympic high performance programmes, with over 2500 children attending swimming lessons weekly, 3500 gym members and thousands of Aquazone waterpark visitors every year.  Today marks an important milestone in its history with its 20th anniversary, having welcomed more than 15 million visitors through its doors since 2003.  

For two decades, as one of the world's largest indoor centres, with a 10-lane 50m international standard pool, a 25m diving pool, water park, and a fitness centre, this world-class facility has served as a beacon of excellence in Irish sport.  Since opening for the memorable Special Olympics World Summer Games in March of 2003, followed by the 2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships, the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre Competition Pools remain a hub of aquatic activity for high performance athletes training alongside children learning and recreational swimmers of all ages and abilities. 

The Competition Pool has been popular for international training camps visiting from 16 countries all over the world, from the USA Olympic Synchronised Swimming team, the Canadian and Croatian Swim teams to the South Korean Swimming Squad.  Major aquatic events and competitions have also taken place, with the 2018 World Para Swimming European Championships, culminating in the unforgettable gold for Ellen Keane, to international Water Polo events and the upcoming Inaugural LEN European U23 Swimming Championships this August.

Una May, CEO of Sport Ireland stated ‘The vision for the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre, and for the Sport Ireland Campus in general, is to foster high performance training in the best possible environment, while also facilitating use by the local community, clubs, schools and the public at large.’

Michael Murray, Chief Operations Officer, Sport Ireland Campus stated, ‘The Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre is not only the training ground for Swim Ireland and Paralympic high-performance athletes, but the Competition Pool also hosts over 2500 participants in the weekly Swim and Dive academy which was recently awarded the Swim Ireland 2023 Inclusive Swimming Programme of the Year award.’

On top of inspiring children across their Swim and Diving academy every week, there is a further 4000 Campus summer camp participants and 5000 school tour visitors annually.  Alongside the Competition Pool, AquaZone water park is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions welcoming hundreds of thousands of waterpark visitors every year.

Sarah Keane, CEO of Swim Ireland and President of the OFI stated, ‘2023 is a special milestone year as the venue looks forward to playing host to some of Europe and Ireland’s most talented swimmers this August for the of Inaugural European U23 Swimming Championships, the first time the event has been hosted in Ireland. The competition promises to be an exciting and competitive one, with swimmers from all around Europe competing for the title of European U23 champion.’