Newlands: Breeding ground for medallists

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town wants to transform the Newlands swimming pool complex into SA’s top high-performance swimming centre capable of breeding the next generation of Olympic gold medalists.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of SA’s Olympic successes in the pool at London 2012, where Cameron van der Burgh won gold in the 100m breaststroke and Chad le Clos took gold in the 200m butterfly and a silver in the 100m butterfly event.

Gold meda- winner Cameron van der Burgh and gold and silver medal-winner, Chad Le Clos. Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images. Credit: Gallo Images

And as SA’s Olympian heroes touched down in Joburg on Tuesday, Cape Town’s acting director for sport, recreation and amenities, Donnie Jurgens, spoke of a plan to turn the pool complex into a state-of-the-art prize in a joint venture with the sport’s national regulatory body, Swimming SA (SSA).

Jurgens said a “collaboration agreement” was the next step, in two to three months’ time, and the new site would be a commercial venture – the return from which would fund the pool complex’s upgrade.

Of the city’s 36 pools, 11 of which are Olympic-sized at 50m long, and with three indoor pools in the Strand, Blue Downs and in Long Street, the Newlands swimming pool complex would become the jewel in swimming’s crown in greater Cape Town.

Newlands currently boasts a main pool, a diving pool, a kiddies pool, one spectator stand, a grassed area and ablution facilities with change rooms and showers.

As far back as 2008, after the Beijing Games, SSA proposed that an international standard aquatics centre be built on the Newlands pool site.

At the time, Western Province Swimming pointed out that without facilities of an international standard in Cape Town, SA could not hope to produce swimmers on par with the world’s best.

SSA’s plan at that time was to refurbish the Newlands pool site as an aquatics complex suitable for swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and waterpolo.

News of the latest development broke during an interview Jurgens had with Africa Melane on CapeTalk on Tuesday. Swimming SA was not available for comment on Tuesday.

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