Officials hope Bournemouth will enhance swimming's talent pool
Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter
Bournemouth Bath, the oldest swim centre in Jamaica, was officially reopened on Friday evening following an extensive renovation project led by the Kingston Rotary Club.
Since 2006-07, the Kingston Rotary Club, in partnership with the National Health Fund and a myriad of other sponsors, raised $14 million over a three-year period in its efforts to restore the club that was destroyed by fire in June 1969.
The bath, situated at Ocean View Avenue in Bournemouth Gardens, eastern Kingston, saw major repairs done to its infrastructure, including renovation of the building, the pools and car park.
During the handover ceremony to the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) and SwimJamaica (Jamaica's Learn to Swim Programme), past president of the Kingston Rotary Club, Steve Evans, under whose administration the project was envisaged, said the two Bourne-mouth Bath pools cost a total of $7 million to renovate as they were unused for many years.
"The pools were empty and were used by folks in the area to play football and cricket in the afternoons," Evans said.
"A lot of the surface was damaged as a result. During the refurbishing exercise after the pools were filled, they had to be drained and more money spent because more cracks were found," he added.
"We are hoping that in the long run we will have lights outside, which would be more accessible to the water polo people who want to use the facility with the bath being one of the deepest swimming pools in Jamaica."
The programme at the bath, which was reactivated in December 2008, has over 500 students from the inner-city, primary and high schools participating in classes organised by Swim Jamaica each week.
"SwimJamaica has become more active as an organiser of swimming training programmes for young people in Jamaica. We approached them and they were happy to be involved as it provided another set of pools other than the one at the National Stadium where their other programmes are," said Christopher Issa, president of the Kingston Rotary Club.
John Eyre, president of the ASAJ, said the facility would help in the development of the sport.
"The lack of facilities has always hampered the development of aquatic sports in Jamaica. Having a facility such as this reopened is extremely important to the plans we have of expanding the SwimJamaica programme," Eyre said.
He said sponsorship options have been proposed by SwimJamaica and the ASAJ to assist students from the inner city in the programme.
The cost per student at Bournemouth Bath will be $3,400 per annum. However, sponsored students will pay $70 per lesson or $700 per term.
"Sponsorship cost includes instructor fees, teaching aids, certificates, T-shirts, pool fees, teaching materials and student registration," he said.
He also noted that interested persons can get information on its website - www.swimjamaica.com.