Scottish island gains Olympic-quality pool lift

A swimming pool in Orkney has become one of the first in Scotland to get a lift for disabled people that was originally developed for the 2012 London Paralympics.


Paediatric physio Penny Martin hopes discreet access will encourage more people to use the pool

The Poolpod submersible lift has been installed at the Pickaquoy leisure centre in Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Islands – which have a combined population of just 21,000.

Funding came from the Scottish government, Sport Scotland and an NHS endowment fund for the islands.

Penny Martin, a paediatric physiotherapist with NHS Orkney, helped submit the funding applications.  She said the new lift will give disabled people autonomous access.

‘We had a look at access to the pool, which only opened a year ago, and we thought it might be putting disabled people off from coming,’ she said.

‘When we looked at the options we saw that the Poolpod was available, and we thought “let’s go for it”.’

The lift, of which there are only two more in Scotland, is operated through a wristband worn by the swimmer, and it’s hoped that pregnant women and those recovering from injury or illness will be also use it.

‘Hopefully, this will provide discreet access and encourage more people to be active by using the pool,’ Ms Martin said.

Wellness, aqua Zumba, aqua aerobics, ladies only and disabled swimming sessions are all run at the pool. And a lane can be set aside for people to walk in the water using floats and webbed gloves to provide flotation and resistance during partial weight- bearing exercises and rehabilitation.

The pool has an adjustable base to accommodate a range of classes and sports, including swimming lessons for children and adults, and kayaking.

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