By Neto Baptiste
Not having access to the 25-meter swimming pool at the old Antigua Athletic Club has severely hampered the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation’s (ABSF) preparation for a number of pending competitions, including the Carifta Games next month.
This was revealed by president of the federation, Dr Derek Marshall, who said that although having raised funds required to rectify leaks in the existing pool, Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) have rejected their offer to have the issue rectified, citing recommendations from an unnamed engineer.
“The AAC [Antigua Aquatic Club] pool was responsible for training at least three to four clubs, and that’s hundreds of kids. We have also put on our slate, the Carifta Games which is due in April and that is going to be held in Barbados. Preparation is hampered because we are using a pool at Langford’s to accommodate everybody and it’s not big enough to do that because you have too many kids trapped in the pool at the same time during a Covid pandemic and so we have certain protocols in place, so it’s very bottle neck,” he said.
Revealing that the federation received the damning news in mid-February, Marshall said the intention was never to remain at the CCG facility indefinitely, but to make arrangements for the construction of a home for swimming within the agreed timeframe between themselves and the cricket body.
“Our development and our arrangement with CCG was really for three to five years because we obviously know that we would have to transition on to something else, so preparations for that was also being made. We also thought that, in discussion with the necessary engineers and looking at the reports and the response that the CCG has given, we looked at other pools across the region which [are] much older than the pool here and, yes, this pool has its challenges, but if you look at Jamaica, that pool has been there since 1966 and if you look at Barbados, their pool has been there since 1989. Do they have challenges? Yeah, they do and there have been situations where they have had to be repaired and just like our pool it’s something you can work with,” he said.
As for what now, Marshall said the federation continues to weigh its options.
“One of the options has been to discuss with stakeholders such as the government, NOC, and also we can go back and talk CCG as well. It’s kind of early in the game to say exactly what we can do, but we have to try and do something to keep the kids in the water. We have been associated with that particular pool since prior to 2013, so we’ve had a long association with that pool and it has reaped good harvest for us in terms of top athletes and now it’s basically put us up a creek without a ship,” the president said.
In September last year, CEO of Cricket West Indies, Johnny Grave, said an agreement between CWI and the federation that would have allowed the latter to utilise the pool had been delayed due to a leak.
Grave added that both bodies were still in negotiations at the time as to how the facility would be utilised.