National swimming pool closed

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September 17, 2011

Training has become a hassle for local swimmers nowadays, ever since the national swimming complex closed more than two months ago. The closure has also left all of the club coaches frustrated, and some without a place to hold training sessions.

The Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre, located in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, is the only 50-meter (m) pool in the country. The 10-lane swim venue became the home for many of the local clubs registered under the Bahamas Swimming Federation's (BSF) umbrella. Since it is an Olympic size pool, coaches said it is the best training place for swimmers wanting to make national teams.

The pool closed in June of this year, immediately following the hosting of the BSF Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships. Kevin Colebrooke, a consultant in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture with responsibility for the national swimming complex, explains why. "Ever since the flooding, the work to the entire complex is an ongoing one," said Colebrooke. "We are presently still working on repairs to all of the systems. And that is an ongoing project. The pool is closed for the time being and we anticipate that it will be opening very shortly.

"I don't want to put a date on it, but we will open very shortly. The work is progressing well, and very shortly we will invite the swimming federation back to the complex. The pool officially closed about two or two and half months ago. That was just after the national championships. We do have heat. The plumbing has been completed also.

 I don't know exactly, what it is costing us to repair, however, I can confirm that it is being done. But I know that there are a number of contractors dealing, or has dealt, with certain things. We didn't do any piece, piece work. We looked at the whole situation and know that we had to revamp the mechanical room, since it was all under water. I don't see it happening again in the future. Once the problems are corrected, I see us having smooth sailing from there on out."

Head coach of Orca Swimming Club, Shawn Neely said his swimmers need to get going, and that training is impossible. He pointed out that his club is one of several that are displaced because of the closure. The Orca Swimming Club does not have a home base, like the Barracuda Swimming Club, which uses the Queen's College pool. Cecile Green said she too can relate to Neely's problems, even though her club has a home base. Green is the president of the Barracuda Swimming Club.

Neely said: "It has been 18 months since the flooding incident and the pool still has not been fully repaired. Only persons suffering from this are the swimmers. They had about 10 weeks to repair since they closed. They said that the pool will be ready for the start of the swim season and it isn't. We are hosting CARIFTA next year, our swimmers want to be ready. They want to put on a good show at home.

"My club is closed because we don't have a home. We are not like the other clubs that have homes. We used the pool to train. I have a young, growing club. A few of the swimmers have a chance of making the cuts for various national teams. But it will be difficult for them to swim the qualifying times if they can't get into a pool. We have a meet in less than a month."
There are 12 registered swimming clubs in the BSF. Of the 12, eight are New Providence based, but only three has the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre as its home base. In Freeport, Grand Bahama, there are three clubs and one in Abaco. Each club has more than 30 swimmers registered.

In the Orcas Swimming Club there are some 40 swimmers, and more than 60 in the Barracuda Swimming Club. Some 30 swimmers of the Barracuda Swimming Club are eligible to compete at the national level.  There is a Learn to Swim program, under the Barracuda Swimming Club's umbrella. This program is held at the Queen's College campus with the older swimmers utilizing the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre for training.

Green stated: "The pool at Queen's College is still available to us. We now have to squeeze all of our swimmers into Queen's College. This gives us limited time to train at the small pool. The senior swimmers are those who have been on national teams, or are attempting to get on national teams.

"By not having the big pool open, it does impact our senior swimmers. Our kids were not able to swim all summer at that pool. In the summer most of the swimmers take a break anyway, but our senior kids don't take a break. They train all summer, maybe not at the same pace you would train all year, but they will still train. Because none of the other kids were training, they were able to use Queen's College pool.
 But once school resumes, Queen's College have their own swim program going, and by the time we add our Learn to Swim program in there and our junior competitive swimmers, our senior swimmers are the ones who are squashed now. They are trying to get the training time in.

"As a club, we are one of the larger clubs, (and) we are impacted by it. We have about 30-40 kids who would have been swimming at the big pool everyday."

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News date : 09/17/2011    Category : Sports, Nassau Guardian Stories

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