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Architect defends ‘too-fast’ swimming pool at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge

The architect behind one of the UK’s quickest swimming pools says comments that the pool is ‘too fast’ are amongst the best compliments he could possibly receive.

British Swimming’s head coach Bill Furniss this week claimed Sheffield’s Ponds Forge pool distorted swimmers’ qualifying times because it was so fast. He wants to see future British qualifying events for the Olympics and other major competitions held elsewhere.

However, Michael Hall, of pool designers FaulknerBrowns Architects, says designing a fast pool is the ‘holy grail’ for architects working in that sector and said Furniss’ comments represent the highest possible praise. Hall said:

Designing a fast pool is the Holy Grail in our profession and it has helped place Sheffield on the international swimming map. It underlines what we achieved in 1991 if the pool is still considered so quick 22 years later – and we have since designed a further 10 Olympic-sized pools across the UK and overseas.

Our pool was designed to meet every rule and regulation set by swimming governing body FINA, and was built with consultation from British Swimming.

Ponds Forge (operated by Sheffield Internatioal Venues) was designed by FaulknerBrowns in 1988 . The pool was one of the first in the world to be built without a shallow end to make it faster – instead it is 3m deep in the middle and over 2m deep at each end. The innovative design prevents ‘vortex reflections’ in the water, which slow swimmers down.