National Aquatic Centre

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National Aquatic Centre
Aerial View of National Aquatic Centre
Location Blanchardstown, Dublin
Co-ordinates 53°23′47″N 6°22′12″W / 53.3964536°N 6.3699619°W / 53.3964536; -6.3699619
Broke ground 2002
Constructed 2002-2003
Opened 10 March 2003
Operator National Sports Campus Development Authority
Architect S & P Architects
General Contractor Rohcon
Construction Cost €70 million [1]
Seating Capacity 2,500
Sports Swimming, Water Polo, Diving, Synchronised Swimming
Events Hosted
2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games
2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships

The National Aquatic Centre (NAC) (Irish: Ionad Náisiúnta Uisce) is an indoor aquatics facility in Dublin, Ireland. The Centre houses a 50m swimming pool, diving pool, leisure pool and fitness centre. Since opening in March 2003 it has hosted the swimming events of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the 2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships and a number of international water polo events.

The National Aquatic Centre hosts the Irish Open Swimming Championships, Irish Senior Water Polo Cup, Irish Open Diving Championships, as well as a number of other national and regional aquatic events.


In 2001, a Design, Build and Operate Contract for the Centre was awarded to a consortium of companies – S & P Architects (Design), Rohcon (Build) and Dublin Waterworld (Operate).[2] The capital cost of the National Aquatic Centre was originally budgeted at €62.5 million and the project was certified as complete in September 2010. The actual cost of the project is still unclear but €119m has been spent on the Campus to date.

USA Synchronised Swimming team in Pre London 2012 Warm up

Storm Damage[edit]

The Centre sustained roof damage during a period of stormy weather in January 2005 and had to be closed for five months so that repairs could be carried out. This closure, after only 18 months operation, damaged the business of the operating company, Dublin Waterworld. Campus & Stadium Ireland Development, the State company which owns the centre, commissioned an engineer to assess the roof damage and they concluded that the roof was not designed and constructed in accordance with building regulations, despite the fact that CSID's experts had certified it. During the closure period NSCDA (National Sports Campus Development Authority) commenced legal proceedings to remove the operators. The case was settled in December 2006 with Dublin Waterworld agreeing to leave the Centre and each party covering their own costs.

NSCDA claimed that the former Operator Dublin Waterworld Limited had failed to pay VAT of some €10m. A High Court appointed arbitrator upheld the VAT charge as did the High Court. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no basis for the VAT charge and set aside both the earlier awards. The Public Accounts Committee investigated the background to the case and issued a report in May 2012, which was highly critical of NSCDA and the Department of Sport.

In December 2012 Dublin Waterworld acquired documents that demonstrated that NSCDA had been advised in 2002 that the VAT charge was contrary to legislation. These documents were forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee, and an explanation from NSCDA is awaited.

Since the NSCDA took back the running of the centre in 2007 the centre has seen visitor numbers double, and membership triple.[citation needed] However the centre still requires an annual multi million euro subsidy. The Centre claimed to have had over six hundred thousand visitors in 2011 but with admission income of €1.4m and ticket costs of up to €14 this figures seems to be overstated.[citation needed]

Swim Ireland launched a High Performance Unit in April 2010 and conducts training camps for elite swimmers at the Centre.

In 2012 over 815,000 people used the facilities of the Centre. It is Ireland’s 3rd most popular fee-paying attraction. It houses Ireland’s biggest individual Swimming Lessons programme (over 2,500 participants weekly), has over 4,500 Members and has won numerous major Awards over the last 3 years. On 7 January 2013 the centre set an Irish record for the most bookings in one day for Swimming, Diving and Synchronised Swimming lessons.

In 2012 it hosted pre-Olympic training camps for teams from 16 different countries, including the then Water Polo Champions Hungary, new Olympic Water Polo Champions Croatia, the Korean National Swimming team and the Synchronised Swimming team from the USA, among others.


The National Aquatic Centre is one of the world’s largest indoor water centres. It comprises:-

  • A 10-lane 50 metre x 25 metre international standard swimming pool with two moveable floors which allow it to be reconfigured for other uses;
  • A 25 metre international standard diving pool/warm up pool;
  • Seating for 2,500 spectators;
  • A leisure area (AquaZone) including adventure water rides, with children’s play pool and wave pool;
  • A fitness centre (ToneZone);
  • Café and Reception Area.

The centre is fully accessible and was commended in 6 O2 Kanchi Award categories as well as winning ILAM Gold Standard awards twice.

In November 2012 the centre won the Fingal Business Chamber Award for "Best Sales & marketing".[citation needed] This added to the Dublin 15 Chamber Awards won in 2009 & 2010.[citation needed]

Olympic sized swimming pool[edit]

AquaZone Slides

The National Aquatic Centre houses Ireland's first Olympic standard pool. Known as the International Competition Pool, in 2003 it was used for the 2003 Special Olympics and later in the same year hosted the Ligue européenne de natation. In 2012 this pool hosted 16 nations from across the globe, including teams from USA, Great Britain, South Korea, Canada, Croatia and more for pre London Olympics Games training camps, making it Ireland's most successful pre-Olympics venue.

Aquazone Waterpark[edit]

Aquazone Water Park is the name of a water park which operates in the National Aquatic Centre, formerly known as Dublin Waterworld. The water park features three water slides (The Dark Hole, The Green Giant and the Master Blaster), a surfing-machine, a Lazy River and a large pool that generates waves. In 2012 over 815,000 people visited making it one of Ireland’s top attractions.[citation needed]


ToneZone Gym

ToneZone, at the National Aquatic Centre, Blanchardstown, is a health club and gymnasium, which features cardio-vascular, and resistance equipment, fitness studio and a dedicated Spinning room. It also incorporates sauna, steam room and spa relaxation.

ToneZone currently has 4,500 members.[citation needed]

Dublin footballers join the National Aquatic Centre[edit]

Dublin Football Squad with staff at the NAC
Dublin Team with Jim Gavin in October

The Dublin Squad announced that the Dublin Senior Football squad became members of the centre for the 2013 season.

The NAC signed up the Dublin senior footballers, giving them access to all the waters of the centre, including Ireland's International 50m Competition Pool, reserved 25m pools for recovery work, as well as access to ToneZone gymnasium, and also AquaZone Water Park.

The NAC also gave them access to its sister venue, Morton Stadium, in Santry for any track training requirements of the Dublin team.

The Dublin footballers join the Irish Cricket team and Irish Sports Council carded athletes as members of the NAC.

After their success winning the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the National League and the Leinster Championship, on 6 October 2013, the Dublin Football Squad, led by their manager Jim Gavin, returned to the NAC with their silverware for a thank you photo shoot.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°23′48″N 6°22′15″W / 53.396624°N 6.370826°W / 53.396624; -6.370826