By Neto Baptiste
Vice President for pool-based swimming with the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF), Darren Derrick, said the body has been knocking at the doors of a number of international organisations in hopes of attracting funding for an aquatic center but without much success.
This, he said, includes the International Swimming Federation (FINA), a well-known ambassador amongst others.
“Right now, FINA for example, has ‘a pool for all’ programme, but that is only going to award one pool in the region, so we are up against everybody else. [The ABSF] don’t have a pool, but we have a couple of private pools, whereas other places don’t; so it is going to be very hard to get in on a programme like that,” he said.
“We’ve reached out to our UN Ambassador [Dr Walton Alfonso Webson] to try and assist us as well so we do quite a bit of work in the background to try and get a facility done,” he added.
The swimming federation has long lobbied for the construction of an Olympic-sized pool here in Antigua but that has not been approved for funding by the government. They have also been unable to raise the necessary grants through the National Olympic Association.
Derrick said the orgainsation would welcome the erection of not just a pool but would rather a complete aquatics facility which offers more than just a place to swim.
“When you talk about building a facility, it’s not about digging a hole in the ground and filling it with water, it’s more than likely about building a covered facility so that you can properly maintain it, seating, warm-down pool, even maybe a gym facility for the dry land training and so forth. So when we look to do a facility we are looking to do an aquatic center, something that is more than just a pool,” he said.
Derrick also revealed that, as a result of not having the proper facilities here, the country will not be hosting the OECS meet in the near future.
“The facilities we have here are not really ideal and we’ve gotten a lot of pushback from the other islands, so our thing is let’s try and get a proper facility so that we can be, really, the premier facility,” the VP said. The federation has also lamented what they are calling insufficient government funding for the national team, suggesting more needs to be done to assist the young swimmers.