Vancouver's New State-of-the-Art Community Pool is Worth A Visit

We recently visited Vancouver, BC for a mix of business and pleasure and decided to take the skytrain (and a short bus connection) over to the new Hillcrest Aquatic Center located next to (or is it part of?) Queen Elizabeth Park.

The building was originally the curling venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics and then re-hatched as an amazing swimming facility that features an olympic-sized pool w/ an adjustable floor and movable walls, and gigantic recreational pool that includes a lazy river, a 70-person capacity hot tub, and outdoor recreational pool, and a sauna and steam room.

The main swimming pool was divided into a lap pool, a diving well (w/ 1, 3, and 5 meter platforms), and a 3rd free swim area. The large rec pool had an amazing lazy river and floating around in that current for a solid hour was the most relaxing thing AquaticsFan has done in years! The outdoor pool was closed for our visit but I made it a point to enjoy all of the other features.

I've included some pictures here but I did get in trouble from the lifeguards for taking them, as I did not have permission from the public. She was a very experienced lifeguard and while she agrees it's an awesome facility, there are several glaring flaws that could have been omitted if the designers would have bothered talking to a lifeguard:

  • The walls on the lazy river are too hight. The lifeguards can't see swimmers as they go around the bend to the other side. They are having to work hard to keep track.
  • The movable walls on the main pool are very difficult to move. Several lifeguards have hurt their backs during this process.
  • The swim lanes are too narrow. This isn't a problem w/ good technique swimmers but if you have to share a lane with a gorilla, you are going to break your knuckles.
  • The handicap lift (a very fancy, electric piece of equipment) is very cumbersome to work with. We watched as it took 20 minutes to set up and hoist a swimmer into the lap pool. She said the old crank ones work just great.
  • The separators in the changing rooms and showers should be hanging from the ceiling instead of supported from the floor. This would make the decks much easier to clean (hair doesn't get caught, etc.)

She did say that the adjustable floor works great. And there is also a system for recycling heat in the building but I'm not sure how that works. The main pool is chlorinated while the rec pool is chemical free. There are no bleachers and apparently no meets are held here, although an age group and a masters team practice here. I did not see any evidence of water polo. It's mostly a community center, and it's awesome!

Exterior of Hillcrest Aquatic Center
Pool Plan
Recreation Pool
Lazy River
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