Following a first family visit on Sunday, I thought I would review the brand new Splashpoint pool from a parental perspective
I grew up in Worthing and the Aquarena is/was my go-to swimming pool for personal comparison. Whenever I went to a pool outside the area, I would always marvel at the flumes, the slides, the Jacuzzis and water guns that we just didn’t have at the Aquarena.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel a particular fondness for the Aquarena as my grandpa, a carpenter, had a hand in building parts of the pool. If anything, the simplistic design of the pool made me a better swimmer. Instead of fast and exciting flumes, we learnt to dive. Instead of Jacuzzis, we tried to beat each other at underwater somersaults. Instead of water guns, we dunked each other.
But times have moved on. Splashpoint is an iconic building to look at, and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that it will be busy with customers come rain or shine. To match the outside, inside is a well-designed, light and airy space which somehow manages to soften noise and present a calm and relaxing atmosphere. The main pool is fully functional with dedicated swimming lanes and, unlike its predecessor pool, is not encroached upon by the slide or diving boards as these are stationed in separate areas. The main pool is the serious pool kept for serious swimmers.
The fun bit – the bit with the slides and the water jets, the pirate ship and the water guns – is just to the left of the main pool and separated with a partial screen to deflect noise. The kids’ pool is noticeably warmer than the main pool, and features a walk in depth ideal for small children and infants, and a deeper end for bigger kids.
The corkscrew slide is perfect for little ones, and finishes in its own water bath so riders are not just cast into the deep end of the pool. It’s not the most thrilling of rides for an adult, perhaps indicative of this is that my kids at ages 3 and 4 absolutely loved it and I was letting them go up and come down on their own.
The kids’ pool is great for parents, the shallow area ideal for teaching them to swim or for allowing them to play on their own without needing to permanently hold them above the water. The pirate ship – the Captain Yallop – is a fantastic feature with buckets that drop water, water guns and sprays and my kids had a whale of a time pretending to be pirates.
Through the glass you can see a small outdoor pool with decked seating area for the summer which I am sure will be popular. Comparisons will be drawn with the free ‘Peter Pan’s’ paddling pool on the site before, but this is much much smaller, albeit nicely turned out.
On the day we went we also took with us a 15 year old with special needs whom my wife works with, and she absolutely loved some of the features of the pool. We had no trouble using the facilities and am pleased to report with an appraising eye that everything looks as though it will be very disability-friendly.
I took a couple of minutes to try out the diving pool and executed a couple of near-perfect dives (or so I said to myself). The new boards have plenty of spring and the segregated pool adds safety. The top board at 3m was scarier than I thought it would be… but I may be out of practice. I steeled myself to go for a dive the second time of asking (I bottled it and jumped the first time) and did not find it wanting. The only negative I would suggest is the steepness of the steps to the top board which I thought was an accident waiting to happen, but I have little experience of performance diving and this may be the norm.
Above the main pool was some spectator seating which should afford a good view of any competitions taking place, although no great bulk of seating over-looking the kids’ pool which may be an oversight. Instead an expansive looking gym overlooks the pool space which seems well fitted for gym classes. The whole pool has fantastic views and long sweeping lines in keeping with the design – Splashpoint is a very stylish place!
We happily lost 90 minutes in the pool and found it very easy to use. The showers are right by the pool and the changing rooms next to them are communal with larger rooms for families. As before, we had no issues with multiple-occupancy in these or using them with a child with special physical needs. Lockers are plentiful, cost 10p which is non-refundable, but are big, easy to use and secure. For hygiene, no shoes are allowed poolside or in the changing rooms which should help with sanitation.
I was a little disappointed that the cafe wasn’t ready yet as we would have definitely stayed for a tea and perhaps a piece of cake after our swim, but I am sure that will be an option after the official opening on 1st May. There was still plenty of finishing to do when we went, but overall if our experience was anything to go by I expect this will be a much-used and much loved community facility. It has my vote.