There have been a few false starts along the way, but Melbourne's new $60 million Commonwealth Games swimming pool is finally ready for racing.
Australian swimming star Brooke Hanson was among the first to test the water at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre yesterday -- about nine months behind its original schedule.
The pool, which cost the State Government almost $10 million more than planned, was drained after
it was filled for the first time in October.
More than a dozen leaks were then discovered in its rubber surface membrane.
In July, the Herald Sun revealed a spotted gum tree had forced a $400,000 design change to the roof, after consultants had failed to incorporate it into their blueprint.
But all was forgotten by yesterday, when Hanson and seven competition winners leapt off the blocks and into the as yet unheated water.
Hanson, a member of the 100m medley relay team that won gold at the Athens Olympics last year, said the pool met her expectations.
"Without a doubt it is a world-class pool. It felt fast as soon as I dived in," Hanson said. "It was so exciting just to dive in and know that I will be competing here in front of a huge home crowd soon."
Hayley Campbell, 11, from Western Australia, was excited about swimming with her hero.
Hayley won the nationwide "Swim with Brooke" competition. "It was really good, even if it was a bit cold," she said.
Mum Nikki Campbell said Hayley had been looking forward to the trip for months, but had last-minute nerves.
"She was very nervous this morning, and she couldn't make her mind up about what stroke to do," Ms Campbell said.
The pool, which has 3000 permanent seats and a temporary grandstand with 7000 more, was officially opened by Premier Steve Bracks.
"Our government is very proud of this major project that will give Victoria not only a state-of-the-art arena for the finest swimmers in the world, but one that will remain here for Victorians to use for years to come," he said.