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YMCA pools reopened after $6.6m restoration

Published:Tuesday | May 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Trevor Spence, Kingston YMCA programmes committee chairman, greets Member of Parliament, Julian Robinson at the recent reopening and dedication ceremony of the pools and the changing rooms at the Kingston YMCA. Also in the photo are JN Foundation Board Director, Parris Lyew-Ayee (second left) and Saffrey Brown, general manager, JN Foundation. The JN Foundation was the main sponsor of the renovation work undertaken on the pools and changing rooms, which saw the swimming facilities being closed for three months. - Contributed

After being closed for approximately three months, to facilitate the restoration and upgrading of its pools and changing rooms, the Kingston YMCA's swimming programme is now back in full operation following the official reopening and dedication ceremony on May 14.

The YMCA, which has been in operation since the 1920s, is nationally known for its excellent swimming programme, and resumed classes at the reopening. Students from approximately 29 schools have returned to continue their lessons.

Now, with a refurbished swimming area, Arnold Aiken, chairman of the Kingston YMCA, expressed gratitude for the funding support from external organisations, which facilitated the restoration.

"We knew the pools had reached a point where they needed to be renovated and, therefore, we decided to send out a call for financial support to accomplish the project. I am happy to say that many civic-minded companies and organisation responded to our call and their contributions have made the project possible," he acknowledged.

The work cost approximately $6.6 million and the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation contributed funds to cover approximately 70 per cent of the cost.

While commending the JNBS Foundation, Aiken also expressed the YMCA's gratitude to other sponsors, which included Burger King, the Sports Development Foundation and LIME.

Julian Robinson, member of parliament for South East St Andrew, noted his desire for the 'Y' to remain the premier institution for swimming and other vocational services, adding that the facilities will assist with the development of local swimmers.

"We have the talent here for swimming to become as highly recognised as track and field, but a part of the challenge is that pools are not readily accessible to the majority of Jamaicans. If children are not exposed, at a very young age, to proper swimming techniques and receive consistent training then they won't develop into top class swimmers," the MP stated.

Guest Speaker Parris Lyew-Ayee, JNBS' Foundation board director, implored schools to include swimming as part of their curriculum, noting that swimming goes beyond simply being a physical activity.

"Separate and apart from being a recreational activity, swimming is perhaps one of the only sports that teaches survival skills, which children can develop even before they can actually walk or talk. The skills gained in being confident, in water, will never leave you and at some point they will become useful as one progresses through life," he affirmed.