Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Deepening the pool - Western Jamaican swim clubs seek government development and new pool in region to foster training

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 8:55 AMKavarly Arnold/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

A number of swimming officials in western Jamaica say that the region’s struggles with underdevelopment will continue even if the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control. They say this is because they still lack proper pools to use for training.

The SailFish Swim Academy (SFSA) has been using a four-lane 25m swimming pool at WesPow Park in Tucker, St James, which they say is inadequate for international preparation, while the Blue Marlins Swim Club (BMSC), based in Montego Bay, has been training on a beach for almost seven years because of vandalism to their six-lane 25m pool in 2013.

SFSA director Arlett Archer-Campbell said that the club’s young swimmers make a significant national contribution at regional events as no Jamaica team has travelled without any of its members since 2015, and she said that this is reason enough for government assistance.

INVEST IN SWIMMING FACILITIES

“Swimming in Jamaica has to represent the quality of athletes across the entire island and not just the children in Kingston,” she said. “The Ministry of Sport needs to put in place structures so that when a national team is being selected, it’s not just the best of Kingston. For this to happen, the Government needs to invest in establishing swimming facilities not only in western Jamaica, but all around so that the pool of athletes can represent the whole island.”

BMSC director Rosemarie Logan said that for the sport to function effectively after the COVID-19 restrictions, a proper swimming pool is needed.

“[COVID-19] put it (swimming) at a disadvantage. I think it would, maybe, slow the process,” she said. “However, when this is over, I would love to see the authorities that be break ground to put down a 50m pool for this region.

“Discussions were being had, children were making [squads for the] Carifta [Swimming Championships], gone to Goodwill Games, and the energy was there in terms of parents getting their children into a ‘learn to swim’ programme. What I am concerned about is the urgency because swimming is a sport that takes money.”