Racing against time

Racing against time

SPM Swimming Pool Complex

If there’s one venue for the 2010 Commonwealth Games that encapsulates all that has gone wrong in the preparations for the event, it’s the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex. On 26 July, eight days after the newly renovated complex was inaugurated, the entire false ceiling above the warm-up pool collapsed. It was also the eve of the National Federation Cup, the test event before the Commonwealth Games, and organizers (and athletes) were lucky that no swimmer was using the pool at the time. But the very next day, during the competition, a swimmer from West Bengal injured her leg when a water drainage cover next to the pool came loose while she was diving. All high-board events had to be cancelled because of incomplete platforms, which means they will remain untested in competition conditions before the Games.

Also See the Complex (PDF)

The diving complex, in fact, has come under particularly heavy criticism. The diving tower’s staircase, at just around two feet wide, is unusually narrow. There is no railing or glass wall at the second level of the tower, which is at a height of some 2.5m. The roof in the area leading to the diving boards is just 6ft high, a problem for taller athletes. During the National Federation Cup, Sam Ramsamy, vice-president of the Federation Internationale De Natation, the world governing body for swimming, was aghast at the preparations. He pointed out that the brand new tiles on the swimming pool floor were already chipped or broken, and expressed concern that the venue will not be ready in time. In August, widespread roof leakage and even seepage through the walls of the complex were reported.

The swimming complex, which was constructed in 1982 for the Asian Games, has been completely revamped at a cost of R377 crore, and features a 10-lane Olympic- size pool, a 5m deep diving pool, and a six-lane warm-up pool. With a seating capacity of 5,000 spectators, it is also the largest covered aquatic stadium in India.

Text by Rudraneil Sengupta; Graphic by Uttam Sharma/Mint