The MEN Arena in Manchester is best known as a pop and event venue hosting such acts as Kylie Minogue and the Rolling Stones and so was the unlikely venue for the World Swimming Championships held in Manchester 9-13 April 2008.
Not only was this the first time that a swimming competition of its kind was held in the UK but The MEN Arena was the first events venue in the UK to host such an event.
Although not an aquatic centre the MEN Arena was able to facilitate this event because two giant swimming pools, each 25m in length and holding 1000 litres of water were constructed for the duration of the Championships. The spanish multinational company AstralPool was employed by FINA, official partner and sponsor of the championships to build the pools and in order to construct the pools on time it required 3 shifts of 50 people working 24 hours. Water was supplied by United Utilities and each pool took 56 hours to fill and six days to heat to a temperature between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius.
Back in March 2007, AstralPool also built two pools for the FINA World Swimming Championships held in Melbourne and as in Manchester each pool held 1000 litres of water. During televised coverage of the Championships in Manchester, BBC swimming pundit Sharron Davies, (former Commonwealth and Olympic medal winner) told viewers how after the Melbourne meet the water was used to feed the plants in the nearby Botanical Gardens. Australia was and still is experiencing their worst draught in 8 years so once all the chemicals had been removed from the water it had provided a much needed drink for the plants.
The Championships saw 17 world records being smashed and was particularly successful for the UK team who managed a medal tally of 24 (3 Gold, 10 Silver and 11 Bronze) and puts them in good stead for the Beijing Olympic Games in August.
The next event at the MEN Arena is Celine Dion in Concert beginning on 2nd May.