For years athletes, parents and coaches have pushed for a 50-meter pool to no avail. However, as the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association (CIASA) shifts into it’s summer calendar, they say it has made significant strides towards finally making it a reality.
“CIASA has been working on a 50-meter pool project for many many years, since the early 2000’s. Now CIASA has felt the time is right to give it a third lucky try, a final push to get the job done” says Pool Committee President Steven Broadbelt.
CIASA’s new Aquatic Centre is a four-acre proposal on Crown land just south of the Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym. It includes a 50-meter 10-lane pool with a depth of 6.5 feet surrounded by a 3000-seat grandstand. Facilities include male and female locker rooms, a coaches area, a common area for catering, as well as a homework room. Slightly west would be an additional 25-meter shallow-depth pool for novice swimmers. In the proposal, CIASA recommends the Lions Pool remain as is until after the construction is complete. At which time, it will be demolished and converted into 400 general parking spots for the surrounding area.
Lions Club member Steve Surrey says CIASA has their blessing.
“It’s a huge thing for the Lions Club. We built this thing and it’s been outgrown. Our aim is to give swimming to all the kids on the island. The competitive swimmers on the island have gone as far as they can go. The Lions Club is fully supportive of this development and hope it goes ahead.”
It’s an ambitious $6 million plan they hope to build in two phases. Subject to approval, it’s a 50-50 proposal of both private and public funding. Technical Director Bailey Weathers says it gives CIASA the room it needs to safely teach every child how to swim.
“From a safety standpoint out current pool is four-feet deep. You really need seven-feet to dive competitively. So that’s an important factor, kind of an accident waiting to happen with four-feet of water. It would allow us to get all the kids water proofed at a very early age, which is our goal, to have them waterproofed and learn to swim by grade two which would be incredible.”
Broadbelt adds it’s the final piece Cayman’s swimmers need to top the amateur swimming ranks.
“Around the region, they all have 50-meter pools. We see ourselves at a disadvantage for these international meets and locally.”
If given to go ahead by Government, Broadbelt says their prepared to start construction.
“We’d like to break ground by the end of the year. That still requires a lot of things to be agreed and in place. That’s an ambitious timeline but that’s something we are pushing towards aggressively.”
The Sports Ministry told Cayman 27 “the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association (CIASA) has brought forward a proposal to the Ministry of Sports which is currently under consideration. At this point, no final decision has been made.”