Refit for Manchester’s Commonwealth Games swimming venue

Posted: 26/06/2023

Manchester Aquatics Centre (MAC) – the swimming venue for the 2002 Commonwealth Games – has reopened following a multi-million pound refurbishment by Manchester City Council (MCC). 

After being closed to the public since November 2021, the project completed in time to host the World Para Swimming Championships at the end of July.

Manchester is ranked eighth in the world for sport according to the BCW Top 50 Global Sport Cities for 2022, the only UK city apart from London (placed third), to make the top ten.

The centre has seen a significant refurbishment and provides residents with direct access to the latest leisure facilities, right in the city centre.  

MCC delivered upgrades to all areas and aspects of the building – improving all of the pools, enhancing fitness facilities with three new gym spaces on one level, studios for fitness and group cycle classes, health suite, and leisure water including new splash pad facilities.

Changing spaces include new accessible changing provision to support disabled people and those with additional needs.

Leisure areas are complemented by a new café, and the whole building is more sustainable and efficient through the use of digital and sustainable technologies in line with the council’s commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2038.

Over £3 million in investment from the National Public Sector Decarbonisations Scheme have funded green energy systems and renewable energy sources to reduce the MAC’s carbon emissions. 

The existing gas heating system has been replaced by high efficiency, all electric air source heat pumps and 1,006 solar panels have been installed on the roof of the centre, alongside a battery system that will allow MAC to use solar energy even on Manchester’s cloudier days.

A building management system, using energy efficient lighting and new air handling units, has also been introduced to preserve heat and reduce emissions. 

Phase 2 of the refurbishment works commences in September and will include upgrades to all basement areas, programmed over the next 12-month period. 

MCC executive member for skills, employment and leisure, councillor John Hacking, said: “The reopening of the Manchester Aquatics Centre is a momentous occasion for the city and it's wonderful to welcome people back to the newly renovated facility, one of the leading aquatics venues in the UK.

“The return of the aquatics centre is a key strategic goal for the council. We want to ensure that our communities have access to state-of-the-art facilities in Manchester and, make sure that we’re looking after the wellbeing, both physical and mental, of our residents.”

Andy King, chief executive of Manchester Active, said: “The centre is a key player in contributing to Manchester’s reputation as an international city of sport and remains one of the most important legacy outcomes of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in the success of GB Para Swimming.  

“Not only will we welcome back a thriving events programme with national and international reach and significant economic value to Manchester, but also over 700 school children each week via the Manchester Schools Swimming Programme and over 900 people on public learn to swim programmes.

“Plus, up to 14,000 health and fitness members and over 70,000 students from both Manchester universities.” 


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