SWANSEA'S new beach and water sports centre has finally opened — and will stay open virtually all year.
The centre on the foreshore opposite St Helen's Rugby Ground plans to open 364 days, and become a focus for beach and watersports on Swansea Bay.
The centre — named 360 — finally opened its doors last week, after months of construction, and was blessed with perfect weather for its first weekend of trading.
Manager Ben Lucas said: "This is a unique facility in Wales, and pretty much in the UK.
"The focus is in getting people involved in new sports, things they may never have done before, for relatively little cost.
"One of the things we want to do is create a beach culture here. We've got a great expanse of beach here, which means we can put on things like beach volleyball, beach rugby and beach football."
The centre is run on a not-for-profit basis by Bay Leisure, a partnership between Swansea Council and Swansea University, which will manage the venture.
The centre also offers sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, and kite surfing, with equipment including wetsuits, for hire, and instructor-led sessions.
It also provides a licensed cafe and toilets, and function room for hire, while managers hope to install lighting to enable the sports to take place during the evenings. And the lockers and changing facilities, which are suitable for people with multiple disabilities, and lockers are available to anyone using the area for sport — regardless of whether they are taking part in any of the centre's activities.
Mr Lucas added: "For years people coming down to use the beach have been getting changed in the car, and now they have somewhere to do it."
The dual-purpose water and beach facility is believed to be the first of its kind in Wales, and has been hailed by Swansea Council for promoting sporting activity, and utilising the natural environment.
Nick Bradley, Swansea Council's Cabinet member for regeneration, said: "Swansea is fast-developing an international reputation as a world-class sporting city.
"We need to make the most of our stunning coastal location and the new watersports centre will generate more vibrancy on the promenade.
"The new centre will complement what's already a fantastic sporting offer in Swansea, thanks to facilities like the Wales National Pool, our network of community leisure centres and the LIberty Stadium.
"It will also be a huge boost to have the watersports centre on a route that is a key gateway to the outdoor playground of Gower."