A new home is on the horizon for swimmers in Grenada as negotiations continue for the construction of an Olympic size structure in the St. George’s area.
Sports Minister Emmalin Pierre made the announcement during a recent appreciation ceremony held for members of the Grenada Amateur Swimming Association (GASA), who emerged winners of the 25th Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Swimming Championships held November 5-8 in Antigua.
The Grenadian swimmers dethroned St. Lucia, which has been its closest contender in recent years.
In an address at the ceremony, Minister Pierre disclosed that a few locations were identified in St. George’s to build the swimming pool but a final decision has not been made.
THE NEW TODAY understands that approval was given for the pool to be put down on government lands in the south of the island but it was shelved after a nearby hotel operator complained about the possible effect on his business.
According to Minister Pierre, “Cabinet had (already) approved a piece of land in the parish of St. David but after listening (to) the concerns of the Association a decision was taken to locate a piece of land in St. George’s for business purposes”.
“We want to add a business component for maintenance purposes,” she said, noting that maintenance of the facility is very costly.
GASA President Nigel Ollivierre said maintenance cost for the swimming pool can run somewhere in the region of EC$7, 000 – EC$8, 000 per month.
“I believe that if GASA does not find a way to add a serious business component to the facility it would end up being a waste. I can tell you straight up that government by itself would not be able to maintain the facility on a day-to-day basis or a monthly basis,” Minister Pierre said.
“We (government) believe that we have to do everything possible to ensure that you have the facilities that are necessary for the level at which you performed,” the Sports Minister said in extending congratulations to the swimmers for a job well done despite the lack of an adequate facility to practice.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY on Monday, the GASA President who is working closely with the Sports Minister towards the erection of the new swimming pool said while they (the swimmers) are making “tremendous good use” of the current 4-lane 25-yard pool at Good Hope, St. Paul’s, a new facility is very much needed.
Ollivierre said the ideal scenario is to have an Olympic size pool with 10 lanes.
“Typically, you would have 8 lanes that would be used for competition and two outside lanes (one on each side)…the lanes we have now are not as wide as the standard lane is supposed to be, which makes it more challenging.
“We are happy to have it (the pool) but really, we need a better facility which we believe will enhance the performance of the swimmers. We are just coming from the OECS Championships…to be able to go out there and win the championship means that we have outperformed St. Lucia, Antigua and even St. Vincent, who all have better facilities than we do. It’s testament to the fact that we have a lot of talented swimmers here and a good coaching programme, but we need a little bit more to be able to take it to the next level.”
Speaking of the many challenges surmounted, Ollivierre expressed the belief that while performance is not solely based on the facility, an enhanced setting will see significant improvements from the swimmers.
“We are way beyond the capacity that the pool can handle…we have too many children training at one time, because there is just not enough space and hours in the day,” Ollivierre said noting that swimming takes place during the day as part of the school programme and club swimming takes place about 4:30 p.m. and goes all the way up to 7:30 p.m.
“You would find that the pool is clogged up all the time (and) children cannot be observed carefully so that the coaches can see that they are employing the proper technique and (because) they don’t have enough space they keep stopping and bouncing in to one another,” Ollivierre said.
He said that a larger facility would allow for “more people to be in the pool at the same time and coaches would be able to see what the swimmers are doing without them bumping into each other, and we can include many more persons in terms of when we look at the swimming programme for Grenada.”
The schools’ programme he said, “can be so much enhanced with more schools participating during the course of the day and it would also allow the clubs to try and recruit more people into swimming.”