Swimming pool is a result of intense lobbying
It really boggled my mind to read in his commentary “We have to be wise and prioritise” in the August 2, Sunday edition of the Kaieteur News that the writer, Rawle Welch, was against the government’s construction of a swimming pool for myopic reasons.
It was myopic of him saying, “Guyana will not be able to produce a swimmer of the calibre of Trinidad and Tobago’s George Bovell (III) and Suriname’s Anthony Nesty, let alone feature on the world circuit, so placing such a costly undertaking ahead of a track for athletics must be deemed unfortunate.”
It was also myopic to compare our local swimmers, who train with limited time in a 25 metre pool with limited facilities with Bovell and Nesty, both of whom trained in the 50 metre Marlins Swimming Pool at the St Anthony’s College ground in Trinidad and Tobago during their formative years. Nesty, who later remigrated to Suriname continued training in a 50-metre pool.
For their international meets, they continued training overseas. Yet my little experience with athletes tells me that they “will not be able to” is not a part of their vocabulary in psyching up themselves, and in spite of dire circumstances.
It cannot be overstated that our swimmers do not have full time access to the 25 metre Castellani Pool, which by international and Olympic standards is now the size of a warm down pool.
It is no secret that our first gold medalist at the Junior Carifta swimming championship lives in T&T and is trained by a former Olympian.
If the facilities are available, there is no reason why our Carifta gold medallist, Jessica Stephenson and our locally based swimmers, once given the opportunity can represent Guyana at the highest level with flying colours.
I do not know why the Guyana government opted to build an Olympic size swimming pool “at the expense of a synthetic track for athletes”.
I know that the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA) constantly lobbied, and submitted its own proposals, having done its own study, for the construction of a swimming pool to the authorities. The pool and its facilities would complement athletes in all sporting disciplines in their cross training, including track and field, since water is 1,000 times denser than air. It would also be used for therapeutic remedy for athletes of all sporting disciplines. Colgrain and Castellani swimming pool are inadequate but they are what our swimmers and coaches work with.
I know that Guyana has, since time everlasting, needed a 50 metre pool, a synthetic track, cycling velodrome, hockey turf, football stadium, lawn tennis courts and so many other facilities. In my humble opinion they are all priorities.
The fact that we are getting a swimming pool that would meet international specifications should be commended.
One of the focuses of the Sport Ministry should also be on infrastructural development to meet the need for state of the art facilities, but sport organisations need to work with the authorities to achieve these. As to swimming becoming high tech, I would dare say that all sports are high tech and scientific. If we in this part of the world do not try to keep up with the rest of the world we would be left even further behind.
Swimming has its place in the sporting world where sport has become big business. Any government and sporting organisation with vision would know that investing in infrastructure in any sport would bring positive returns.
Apart from entertainment and high achievements, sport has become big business and Guyana cannot afford to be left behind in either the major sporting events like cricket, football and track and field or the less popular sports, such as golf, swimming, rugby and many others, which have their niche among a high income clientele in the developed countries and which can contribute significantly to the development of the sport industry in developing countries like Guyana.
There are no official estimates of the size of the sport industry – including sport tourism in the Caribbean. However, the Sport Business Journal, an industry trade publication in the USA has estimated that the sport industry in the USA has grown to a US$213 billion industry per annum in 2008. The sport industry in the United Kingdom is estimated at 200 billion pounds annually.
The estimated values in these countries includes sport related advertising, venue, signage, athletes endorsements, construction of sporting goods and licensed merchandise, event management and marketing services, sponsorship, ticketing sales, mobile text, messaging and media broadcasting among other areas.
While, all of this might boggle some minds the fact remains that sports including swimming is currently generating its own funds in the region and contributing to the sport industry. Barbados and Jamaica rent out their swimming facilities to elite swimmers from the United Kingdom and the USA during the winter season. In some cases the swimmers travel with coaches, family members and support staff including physiotherapists. It was reported that one month rental of a swimming facility in Barbados covered the pool’s maintenance programme for an entire year.
Last but not least, our swimmers who took part in the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Rome, Italy might not have won their events, but the two who won their heats gave Guyana some much needed good publicity which cannot be paid for in advertising dollars. When a heat is won the name of the swimmer and his/her country of origin is relayed on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and viewed by thousands of swimmers and spectators present.
Miranda La Rose