It’s only a messy construction site now and has yet to see its first drop of water but the Pan American Games Aquatics Centre is already making a splash in Scarborough.
The $205-million facility at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus is half complete with the games set to start in two years.
Many who spoke to CBC about the facility say it will be Canada’s best pool, serving everyone from elite-level swimmers to members of the community taking swimming lessons.
Its features include:
- Two, 50-metre pools, each with 10 competitive lanes.
- Seating for 6,000 spectators.
- Full five-metre deep diving tank with platforms at heights of three, five, 7.5 and 10 metres.
- Dryland training facilities,
- A fieldhouse with flexible gymnasium space for training and competition as well as a walking track and fitness centre.
The venue will host swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, fencing, modern pentathlon and sitting volleyball events.
"This is actually our largest capital build as part of the games and it represents one of our largest investments in amateur sports in Canadian history," said Jason Fellan, director of project management for Toronto’s Pan Am Games.
The aquatics centre is owned by the university and the city. The hope is that it will become a community hub long after the games wrap up.
"This will keep a lot more athletes in Canada and promote younger athletes to get involved in sport," said Isaac Bouckley, who competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. "By giving them that facility, it gives them to opportunity to train at a high level at a young age."
Debbie Low is the CEO of the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, which will eventually be housed in the Pan American Games Aquatic Centre.
"It's an opportunity for Ontario and Canada to become a leader in summer sport," Low told the CBC’s Scott Russell. She pointed to the field house being erected alongside the swimming pools. It will accommodate four gymnasiums, a bio-mechanics lab, a sports nutrition lab, an altitude chamber and rehabilitation centre.
The 25,000 square feet which will comprise the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario will also become home to the national wheelchair basketball team and a permanent centre for Canadian Paralympic excellence.
"It's long overdue," said Low, who's been working on this concept since the early days of Toronto's bid for the 2008 Olympics, or more than 15 years. "We'll finally be on a level playing field with the rest of the athletes in the world."