Tue | Sep 26, 2017

GC Foster principal takes a dive at swimming pool project

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2016 | 2:00 AMDania Bogle
Graham-Royal

The state of the swimming pool at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport has been a sore point for decades.

Current principal of the institution, Dr Joyce Graham-Royal, said it will cost $91 million to repair the facility, which has never been used since it was built in 1980.

In late 2014, Minister of Sport Natalie Neita-Headley had announced that Government would be donating the funds to repair the pool via the Sports Development Foundation.

However, Graham-Royal told The Gleaner yesterday that she had since learned that the funds, which had been earmarked for the pool work, had been spent on refurbishing the synthetic track at the institution, which was reopened last October.

The track cost $171 million to repair. Graham-Royal said because of the clay soil at the Spanish Town-based sporting college, repairing the track had cost much more than the projected figure.

Successive principals over the last few years have threshed around with the idea and as recently as 2008, the estimate to repair the Olympic-sized swimming and diving pools was at $50 million.

 

GETTING THE MONEY

 

Graham-Royal, who became principal of the institution in 2014, said fixing the pool will be her next 'big' project and said she does not intend to begin the project until she is sure she has all the money to complete it as she does not want to start and not be able to finish.

"(I need) at least three quarters of it because it wouldn't make sense; it means work would have stopped," she told The Gleaner.

Students of the school, who train to be teachers of physical education, must now use a tiny pool in Old Harbour for swimming lessons.

"So I have to pay more than $10,000 monthly for them to learn to swim. You're not a complete PE teacher until you're able to swim," Graham-Royal, herself a graduate of the G.C. Foster College, who later studied abroad, said.

"When I went to the University of Mainz in Germany to study, I could not graduate until I learned to swim," she added.

Meanwhile, Graham-Royal also noted that the institution as also losing money as there were some interested parties who would have used the facility had it been operational.

"Just this morning some students from a university in Canada called. They had a contingent of 50 and wanted to come for the summer," she said.

"So we are missing all of that. We really do need some private sector injection. We can't do it otherwise," she concluded.