As some of Cayman’s amateur swimmers prepare for the International Swim Coaches Association (ISCA), the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sports Association (CIASA) are busy working on revisions to their proposed $6 million Aquatics Centre.
Last week, Sports Minister Hon. Julianna O’Connor-Connolly publicly endorsed the facility for the first time, verbally committing to the proposed 50-50 partnership worth $3 million in government funding. As Aquatics Centre Committee Chair Steve Broadbelt explains, her support symbolizes a big step in the realization of the long awaited facility.
“What’s changed now is there’s more of a feeling that this is actually going to happen.”
The Sports Minister says she realizes what many others in Cayman have touted for years: Amateur swimmers in Cayman have unlimited potential if they’re able to train in a proper facility.
“In order to go international and compete at an equal playing field, we need to have that 50-metre pool. I’m really hoping in my tenure we can have that backing for the 50-50 partnership to make it a reality.”
The Minister added however, CIASA’s latest proposal needs work. With the facility designed horizontally from the corner of Aspiration Drive & Olympic Way, Broadbelt says the flow of cars was the Minister’s biggest concern.
“We are working on fine tuning the parking layout. Making sure the traffic flow is sufficient for when you have large amounts of car trying to exit.”
The Minister added the areas surrounding facilities such as the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and Dalmain Ebanks Boxing Gym used by various sports associations need to be considered as well.
“We don’t want upset the neighbours, the netball people, the boxing people. There’s needs to be an equal equilibrium for all.”
One change saw the 3000-seat facility go from one grandstand to two. Broadbelt says the pool’s layout is key for both government and CIASA in order to capitalize on it’s potential.
“For international events like CARIFTA and CCCAN, we want to make sure we meet their minimum requirements and exceed them.”
After a year of back and forth, Broadbelt says their fine tuning a design they hope to present to the Ministry once again.
“They’re waiting on us to present the final details, drawings, site plans and artist renderings. We are working on those right now and they’ll be available very soon.”
With government firmly committed to its $3 million dollar contribution, the Minister says it’s CIASA’s turn to jump back in.
“I would hope sometime this year, we go to planning process, and we can put the funds in place. Governemnt is committed to that 50%.”
Note: Broadbelt added the facility will be 100% wheelchair accessible and the group will work with the Special Olympics Cayman Islands (SOCI) on ensuring it’s inclusive elements.