OLYMPIC champion and former Ripon Grammar School student Jack Laugher hopes a new swimming pool named in his honour will inspire young people to ‘chase their dreams’.
The Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre in Ripon has been officially opened by the three-time Olympic medallist.
Laugher, who was born in Harrogate, confessed he never thought such a facility would be named after him.
It has a six-lane, 25m pool, modern changing rooms, sauna suite and new main entrance with lobby area.
The 27-year-old won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 3m sychro competition alongside Chris Mears – and followed that up with a silver medal in the individual competition.
He completed the Olympic set as he took bronze in the same event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Laugher said: “I’m truly honoured that Harrogate Borough Council have named the new facility in Ripon the Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre.
“As a city I grew-up in and a district where I learned to swim and dive, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would have a facility named after me.
“I hope this new pool and the diving facilities in Harrogate encourage others to chase their dreams like I have.”
Councillor Stanley Lumley, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, and chair of the board of directors at Brimhams Active, said: “The addition of the new swimming pool is a major development for Ripon and the surrounding area and shows our commitment to providing modern leisure facilities for residents across the Harrogate district.
“Jack may not have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for his perseverance and determination, and the leisure facilities available in his hometown, so I am delighted we have renamed this new leisure and wellness centre after him.
“I hope this, and our future investment at the Hydro in Harrogate – that will include a new diving platform – will help Harrogate and District Diving Club and Brimhams Active nurture talent and create a pathway for future Olympians, just like Jack.”
LAUGHER made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics by becoming the first-ever Olympic champion in diving for Great Britain, alongside 3m synchro partner Chris Mears, before following it up with an individual silver in the 3m springboard to make him the most successful British diver ever.
Success has continued for Laugher; achieving three gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a bronze and silver medal in the 3m individual and synchro springboard events respectively at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju and a bronze medal in the 3m springboard at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Born in Harrogate and educated at Ripon Grammar School, Jack became interested in diving during a visit to the Hydro in Harrogate and soon began to learn to dive through the Harrogate and District Diving Club.
Councillor Stanley Lumley, Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, and chair of the board of directors at Brimhams Active, said: "The addition of the new swimming pool is a major development for Ripon and shows our commitment to providing modern and fit-for-purpose leisure facilities.
"Jack may not have had this opportunity if it wasn't for his perseverance and determination, and the leisure facilities available across the Harrogate district. I am therefore delighted that we have named the new facility after him.
"The pool will open early in the new year and I hope everyone, irrespective of disability, gender, age, race, sexual orientation or religion use this fantastic new facility."
Jack said: "I'm truly honoured that Harrogate Borough Council have named the new facility in Ripon the Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre.
"As a city I grew-up in and a district where I learned to swim and dive, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would have a facility named after me. I hope this new pool and the diving facilities in Harrogate encourage others to follow their dreams like I have."
The new six-lane 25metre pool at the Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre offers 70 per cent more water space compared to the ageing Ripon Spa Baths and has a wealth of improvements that come with modern, fit-for-purpose leisure facilities.
These include the AngelEye pool safety system that, with the use of underwater cameras, assists lifeguards to detect whether swimmers are in danger or drowning.
Outside, a new car park has been installed along with a sheltered cycle rack, electric car charging points and a new play area.
Mark Tweedie, managing director of Brimhams Active, said: “Swimming is one of the most popular and beneficial ways to start and stay active, it's a truly inclusive activity no matter age or ability.
"This amazing new facility provides residents with access to a great swimming experience for future generations. I'd like to thank Harrogate Borough Council for their bold and brave vision to provide unprecedented levels of investment into leisure and wellbeing across the Harrogate district."
Councillor Lumley added: "We remain committed to providing much needed leisure facility across the Harrogate district, which will encourage a healthier and more active lifestyle for our residents and something they can be proud of.
"This investment in in Ripon will be complemented by a further multi-million pound investment at the Hydro in Harrogate and a new leisure and wellness centre in Knaresborough."