Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

HLSCC to get 25m pool @ Paraquita Bay campus

HLSCC to get 25m pool @ Paraquita Bay campus

The BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) has announced it has secured a commitment from Panam Sports and World Aquatics (the international swimming federation formerly known as FINA) to support the supply of a 25m international competition standard swimming pool from Myrtha Pools to be installed and managed by H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on Tortola, [British] Virgin Islands.

According to a press release from the BVIOC on February 1, 2023, the development of the project has been formalised following six months of discussions between Mr Ephraim E. Penn, President of the BVIOC, Mr Ivar Sisniega, Secretary General for Panam Sports and Dr Richard W. E. Georges, President of the HLSCC.

It said preparatory work on the proposal included a meeting with the President of the BVI Swimming Federation, schematics from Myrtha Pools received through Panam Sports and a rough order of magnitude.

“Dr Georges initially approached the BVIOC in July with an offer of partnership for the installation of a swimming pool following a response I had given to a question on the status of swimming in the territory at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games press conference,” said President Penn. “This was a timely outreach that came on the heels of a Panam Sports National Olympic Committee Consultation meeting that Secretary-General Lloyd K. Black, Treasurer Mark Chapman and I attended in Miami in May 2022."

Swimming pools ‘an urgent need for the region’

During the meeting, Panam Sports had expressed a desire to see the development of public and competition standard swimming pools in the Caribbean.

"Panam Sports and World Aquatics identified installation of swimming pools as an urgent need for the region," said Mr Neven Ilic, President of Panama Sports. "The BVI has already made its mark in swimming with the likes of Olympian Elinah Phillip and this, along with our history of support for the development of the BVI's athletes, coaches, sports and sporting facilities like the Mondo track at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Ground, helped us to identify the NOC as the beneficiary of our offer to provide a training and competition pool provided they could find a location and a partner that would be responsible for civil works and the maintenance and management of the facility, which should be accessible to all."

From left: Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports, Hon Sharie B. de Castro; President of HLSCC, Dr Richard W.E. Georges, and President of the BVIOC, Mr Ephraim E. Penn.

‘Ideal-sized pool’

The initiative was presented to the BVIOC by Mr Sisniega who explained that a pool is essential for the development of competitive swimmers while stressing the importance of learning to swim as a survival skill.

"A short course 25-meter pool is the ideal sized pool for a small country, since it would allow the swimmers to compete in official distances, while at the same time supporting a learn to swim program that would help develop local talent and, more importantly, give the opportunity to many of the local children and youth the opportunity to learn to swim properly and to engage in this sport on a regular basis," said Mr Sisniega.

Panam Sports supports the development of sport and its 41-member National Olympic Committees “to inspire more participation in international competitions as well as participation of the youth to prepare the generation to come in our region.” The donation of the swimming pool - valued at around $400,000 – is expected to be a pilot scheme for other Caribbean NOCs.

The project is aligned with the College's master plan as the swimming pool supports its marine and maritime curriculum as well as its vision for the student experience.

The Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), which has been invited to oversee and manage the preparations and construction of the facility, is in receipt of a Statement of Requirement.

"The next step in the process is to put the proposal together for the funding for the civil works and ancillary elements of the aquatics center such as the administrative offices, changing facilities, gym and therapy area, stands, storage rooms etc,” said Dr Georges, who has identified potential financiers for the project.


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