National diving pool reopened
The 25 metres diving pool at the National Aquatic Centre in Kingston was officially reopened yesterday, after four months of renovation.
Upgrades done to the pool, which is mainly used for water polo and synchronised swimming, cost just under $14.5 million. The money was provided by the Sports Development Foundation.
Independence Park Limited's general manager, Major Desmon Brown, said that these upgrades were necessary as the Ministry of Health had closed the facility because of health concerns.
"The surface area had become very uneven," Brown said. "What that does is that it enables bacteria to grow along the sides (of the pool). So the Ministry of Health, who were rightly doing their jobs, said 'No no no'. At the time, we did not have the funds so we sat down and worked out some conditions to continue. We went as far as getting the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) divers to come in and scrub the sides and we had to increase our testing to more than once per day. We had to ensure that every time we tested, we met the requirements."
Brown said that work on the surface also included removing the existing water-tiles, galvanised inlets, vacuums and pipes.
Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica president Handel Lamey welcomed the renovations, saying the improvements will make hosting swim meets at the venue more efficient, going forward.
"Hosting a swim meet and not having a warm up pool is a tremendous problem," he said. "You have to break the meet in order to have warm ups during the races and that lengthens the meet and the meets can sometimes go very late. So that was a significant impact, both on the volunteers that work at the meet and the swimmers because it takes them to extended hours in the night. So we are also truly grateful for this effort to have the pool repaired and back in service now."
However, Lamey said that more work needs to be done to the facilities ahead of Jamaica's hosting of the CARIFTA Swimming Championships next year.
"This is a big thing, not only for Jamaica, but for the region," Lamey said. "Jamaica will be on show - this facility will be on show. So there is significant more work that is required.
"The last time we hosted CARIFTA was in 2013. It went down as one of the best tournaments ever and we intend to top that in 2018."
Major Brown said that more work can be done to the facilities, as long as Jamaica continues to do well in aquatics regionally. He was referencing the performance of Jamaica's junior water polo teams which competed at the CARIFTA Water Polo Championships in the Bahamas last month.
"When we perform and do well, it's easier for us to go to the Ministry of Finance and say we need some funds. So I'm asking that we continue to do well. It makes the job easier when we are performing."
Jamaica's boys' under 19 team won gold at the event, while their female counterparts took silver and the boys under 16 team claimed bronze.