Lyn eyes return of swimming
Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) President Martin Lyn says that the reopening of the National Aquatic Centre could happen by August provided that measures taken to safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus disease are accepted by local authorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on national aquatic sports, forcing the closure of the swimming facility at Independence Park as well as the rescheduling of regional events such as the Carifta Games.
In a Gleaner interview on June 22, Minister of Sport Olivia Grange said that plans were being finalised for the resumption of training for swimming, water polo, and artistic swimming.
Lyn said that a majority of the protocols proposed have been approved by the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Health, adding that changes have been made to the pool in preparation for a future reopening. The facility is expected to be toured by Ministry of Health officials in the coming days.
“Both the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Health have agreed to most of our protocols, and we anticipate an inspection from the Ministry of Health this week,” Lyn said. “Once we get that inspection, we would then be cleared to, in fact, plan for the opening of the pool, and in so doing, we will anticipate the opening on a phased basis. I am really anticipating it reopening in the next few weeks. I don’t anticipate that it should take longer than that.”
CHALLENGE TO FIND RESOURCES
Renovations to the facility have already exceeded $1 million. They include the installation of signage, repainting, sanitisation of stands, as well as the renovation of the depth markers of the pool. Lyn said that it has been a challenge to find the necessary resources with no income but noted that it was necessary to ensure a swift return to aquatic sports.
“My administration had ensured that we find the funds so that we can open the pool to the benefit of all of our athletes and, of course, the future of aquatics,” Lyn said while underlining that established health protocols, which include temperature checks, sanitisation, and social distancing would be observed once the centre is reopened.
National coach Wendy Lee underscored the importance of the pool reopening, stating that the swimmers need access as soon as possible given that they are already at a disadvantage for next year’s competitions.
“Realistically, Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad, all the competing Caribbean countries, are already in the pool. It is going to be next to impossible to have our athletes where they need to be when they are now three, four weeks behind in training,” Lee said.
Lee said that the proposed protocols have been discussed among the other coaches, and she believes that they meet the required standard to protect the athletes.