Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, Ultimo, Sydney
Success for some true greats can be a real albatross. Sure there’s fame, fortune and probably never having to unpack the dishwasher again, but for some it catapults them to an isolated world.
Ian Thorpe is Australia’s most successful Olympic swimmer. The man known as ‘Thorpedo’ with feet the size of a small African nation was unstoppable during the Sydney and Athens Olympics.
Since he left the pool life hasn’t gone so swimmingly. Plagued by depression, irrelevant questions around his sexuality and general life adjustment issues the poor guy just can’t cut a break (or work out which car is his).
But thankfully in his hometown of Sydney there’s a living and chlorinated testimony to all that early 2000 greatness.
Australia’s (arguably) best architect together with the country’s greatest swimmer. This pool is a bit like an Olympic love child, with a swimming school to prove it.
Perched on the edge of tourist-tastic Darling Harbour the swimming complex rises like a collection of white paper clips on the edge of Ultimo. Sadly, Harry Seidler died a year before it opened so he never got to see all its greatness. Like the wave shaped roof that reflects the swimming lanes from above. It rises to its highest point over the 50 metre pool giving it a light and airy feel you so often don’t get with indoor swimming pools.
On the day I visited the Olympic pool lanes were mostly vacant. Most of the action was taking place around a giant inflatable waterslide where a bunch of kids were having the time of their school holiday lives. After all he’s been through these days Thorpey probably thinks this is a better use for pool than swimming laps.
Highpoints: That roof. It’s glorious, with its curves, reflections and general light touches. The impressive terrace view of the nearby skyline also rates a mention.
Lowpoints: Parking in this part of the city can be tricky. Also ratable mention to the City of Sydney who made me get a press pass for taking photos. Guess he was doing his job, but who wouldn’t trust this face.
Cost: $7 entry, slap on another $7 if you want to use the steam room and sauna
Attire: Racerback swimmers
Best for: swimming lessons for the next generation of Thorpedos
Overall rating: 8.2