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'Water Cube' debut draws accolades from IOC official, swimmers
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The debut of China's National Aquatics Center, nicknamed by the Chinese as "water cube", has drawn accolades from International Olympic Committee (IOC) official as well as swimmers for the Olympic test tournament.


"This is an excellent and wonderful facility...and the best aquatic venue by far," said Richard Kevan Gosper, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Press Commission Chairperson.


"It (the Olympic test) will be a very successful event, and all operation work has gone very smoothly," he told reporters on Thursday afternoon.


The Good Luck Beijing 2008 Swimming China Open, which opened on Thursday and serves as a test of the venue ahead of the Olympics, is scheduled to be participated by 234 swimmers from more than 36 countries and regions.


"I felt a very good mood for competition the time I entered the cube," said Zhang Lin, a Chinese swimmer on the national team, adding that the pool water temperature was just right for him.


Ryan Pini, from Papua New Guinea, said "the venue is very easy to get around, and the volunteer services are quite satisfying."


However, a few other swimmers also voiced their advice for the improvement.


Otylia Jedrzejczak, a Poland swimmer who swam women's 200m butterfly on Thursday, complained it was too hot in the water and the change room. "But besides that, everything else is OK," she said.


The swim meet is the maiden show of the Water Cube, but only as a test event, few world-class swimmers take part in. Swimming powerhouses like the United States and Australia will only send observers to the event.


The 17,000-seat venue will host swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo during the game period and 42 gold medals will be awarded there.


The squat box-like structure with three pools below ground level is made up of a steel skeleton sheathed in a Teflon-like plastic membrane that resembles bubbling water and gives the venue its name.


The eco-friendly structure's translucent shell allows in natural sunlight, providing heat and light and cutting energy use by up to 30 percent, according to the information provided by the Beijing Olympic organizing committee.


(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)

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