André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The National Stadium pool has been drained and is currently undergoing a four-week refurbishing exercise, which is expected to rack up a $5-million bill; most of which is yet to be secured by the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ).
A complete resurfacing of the pool floor, the installation of new touch pads and a new scoreboard, as well as a comprehensive beautification programme, are all on the worksheet with the country set to host the Carifta Swimming Championships from March 30-April 3 next year.
ASAJ president Martin Lyn and his team will be knocking the doors of potential sponsors over the coming days, but the proactive approach, he hopes, will ensure that the country can boast a truly first-class swimming facility in a matter of weeks.
"We are, in fact, making sure that our facilities for the Carifta Games and beyond are in First-World contention going into next year," Lyn told The Gleaner. "We have already closed the pool for renovation, we are renovating it on our own; the ASAJ. We just closed it on Friday and it will reopen on January 20.
"We are anticipating spending at least $5 million. We are seeking sponsorship and we are also funding some of it, but we are already starting the work," Lyn explained.
"We have to do this, we are very proactive at the ASAJ and we have to just do what needs to be done. We want the aquatic centre to be a First-World, state-of-the art centre and that is what we are working towards," he outlined.
The new scoreboard will cost in the region of $1.4 million, while the touch pads - used for electronic timing and placing - will set back the association by $2.5 million.
"It's the mandate of this executive going forward and I have always said that the 50-metre pool will never close unless we are doing what we are doing now, which is making it better," Lyn added.
The work should be completed in time for the Karl Dalhouse Memorial meet, which will swim off on the first weekend in February 2013 and serve as a litmus test for the new systems, ahead of the Carifta Swimming Championships.
"We are doing this in a down period and we also considered that by the time the Karl Dalhouse Memorial meet in the first weekend in February, we will have the pool, the touch pads, the scoreboard, everything up and this will be a great test for all the facilities over the four days of swimming, to make sure we are ready long in advance for Carifta," said Lyn.
The National Stadium swimming pool has been the subject of much discussion and had been forced to be closed in the past for much-needed renovation work.