Swimming federation, government in talks over national pool

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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) and the government are in talks regarding the construction of a national swimming pool and aquatic center.

President of the swimming federation, Dr. Derek Marshall, confirmed that preliminary talks have taken place as to where the aquatic centre would be built.

“Inevitably you must have a national pool in order to better your results because you can only go so far with limitation and restrictions from other pools so we have to have a national pool. We’re actually trying to work on that now so we’re actually in negotiations with the government trying to find a space to put, not only a pool, but an aquatic centre,” he said. 

The notion of a national pool for athletes has long been debated with at least one former sports minister pointing to lands surrounding the new University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus as a possible location.

Marshall said they have had interest from at least one overseas company willing to assist with the construction of the centre, but that the lands must first be identified.

“We’ve been in talks with private corporations that are willing to assist, but obviously they need to know exactly what we are going to do. We have also been in talks with an international company that gave us some directions in terms of building the pool, but they need to see the site as well in terms of doing it. We even have the sketch diagrams to do that, but we need the site in order to see if it could facilitate what we want,” the president said. 

Vice President of pool-based swimming, Darren Derrick, revealed that one of the main points of ongoing discussions is possible locations for the proposed aquatic centre.

“The first question you get is where are you putting the pool? And our perspective is that the pool must be central in order to get as many people involved as possible, and then you have other perspectives like that it must be attached to the University of the West Indies out in Five Islands so there is always going to be this negotiation of where should the pool be; and we have just gotten from the Minister of Sports, the Honourable Daryll Matthew, they are going to allocate us five acres of land to build a pool [aquatic centre],” he said. The swimming federation this week, named a 14-member squad to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Carifta Swimming Championships in Barbados from April 11-14. Government has however pulled the country’s teams from the championships over fears of the COVID 19.

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