Hamdan Sports Complex (Competition pool)

Stunning swim stadium with two huge 50m pools!

I first attempted to swim this pool in 2017. I remember a very expensive 30-minute Uber journey out into what was more desert, less developed at the time, only for security to turn us away at the gate as they were preparing for a competition that weekend! Was I an athlete? No. I decided on a shorter return hop to the Dubai Mall for some retail therapy!

Not wanting to make the same mistake this time, I’ve triple-checked the timetable (open all day until 10pm!) and given the events calendar and a good look over - the pool is open (I hope).

It’s already been a long day. I arrived into Dubai on the overnight flight from Heathrow at 6:30am. Had some hassle sorting a hire car from the hotel agents. Visited a trade show at Dubai World Trade Centre. Then finally, negotiated Dubai rush-hour traffic, leaving the venue for the 12-mile, 30-minute drive out of the city to the sports complex - making a few wrong turns on the way! It’s dark by the time I arrive.

The stadium appears on the horizon as an enormous blue led hue from the highway. I’m approaching from the North, so I have to drive past a couple of miles to the next exit to loop back onto the other carriageway. There is a new residential estate opposite the pool now; I recall four years ago, this was an empty open desert, with infrastructure like roads, bike lanes and swimming pools installed and ready; I can imagine the area will be fully developed within the next 10 years.

The service road approaches the stadium from the rear; I’m a little concerned as the place looks deserted! Hold my breath as I pass the security hut, Circle around the stadium past a go-cart track, and then suddenly, the place comes to life. A swim training session must have just finished as quite a few people still clad in swim gear are heading out to the car park.

Make my way through the huge bunker-style entrance to reception; the 65 AED (£14 / $17) entry fee is quite acceptable, considering what you’re getting for the money. I then have to send a photo of my driving license and complete a questionnaire on WhatsApp - a first for me but quite common in the UAE. I’m then given a personal guide to the men’s changing rooms. Otherwise, I would have snapped a selfie under the ‘athletes only’ sign!

The changing rooms are surprisingly small, but making my way out to the pool deck, the size is stunning. The pool is surrounded by a 4,000-seater stadium stretching up to the vast interior’s rafters; from the pool level, it looks bigger than Old Trafford! The 50m pool is capped by a second 25x25m diving pool with an array of boards floating from the wall, accessed by a tidy hidden series of platforms and staircases on the other side of the wall.

A quick chat with the guy on the lifeguard desk (yep, an entire desk here!) and ask if I’m correct in thinking there is a second pool behind the wall of diving boards - yes, there is, only it’s currently closed for swim lessons and set up with 25m lanes. Oh well, just the one new pool for the list tonight.

Eight of the 10 lanes are empty, so naturally, I head for the centre and select lane six, hoping for some Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte 2010 Dubai Fina championships vibes! Jump in and make a start. The pool water is the perfect (cold) temperature; I read on the website the pool is solar-heated - which makes sense in Dubai!

This is a proper FINA-regulation Olympic pool with (I think) a fully moveable floor. This is the first 50m pool I’ve swum in where the entire floor is set at the proper 3m depth. Swimming in deeper water always feels slow; this isn’t helping my first 1km time!

Take a break and get distracted; centred above the pool is a ginormous four-sided 200” jumbo tron screen showing a live local football match; I’ve no idea who is playing, but my next 1km is peppered with regular long breaks to enjoy the novelty of the big screen!

Finish up a somewhat slow swim, and jump out feeling tired after a long day… but as I’m heading back to the changing rooms past the lifeguard desk, i’m told the training pool is now open! I’m sure I can manage another 1km, so through the wall of boards I go to find a second huge 50m training/warm-up pool. To be continued …

Swim Stats

  • 2000 meters total swim
  • 1:34 pace / 100m
  • Garmin Swim 2 Watch



Simply stunning! The entry fee was a very reasonable 65 AED (£14 / $17). Definitely check the event timetable to make sure there is nothing on, but otherwise, I believe the competition pool has public lane swimming much of the day, every day and is permanently set up in the full 50-meter format. The training pool does have a more complicated timetable to accommodate swim lessons, clubs etc. The pool is approximately a 20-30 minute drive out of town from most areas of Dubai.

Pool Details

  • Length 50m meters
  • 10-lane pool
  • Indoor

Hamdan Sports Complex (Competition pool)
Exit 611, Opp. Global Village - Emirates Rd - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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