Chad Le Clos in action in the green pool.
Chad Le Clos in action in the green pool.

Broken pipe stymies swimmers' dreams

By Karien Jonkheere Time of article published Apr 18, 2013

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Port Elizabeth – Diarrhoea, ear infections and asthma attacks were three very good reasons for calling off the third day of the SA Swimming Championships at the Newton Park pool on Wednesday.

The country’s finest swimmers left the pool without a race being swum for a second consecutive day after yet another water pipe burst.

Municipality workers had worked through the night to get the pool into a reasonable state following a previous pipe-burst on Sunday and by early on Wednesday morning all looked good to go.

“I was here last night and early this morning to check the condition of the pool and everything was on track.

“The pool was clear – it looked pretty,” said Swimming South Africa CEO Shaun Adriaanse.

“But then this morning we had a feeder pipe that supplies water to the area burst.

“Obviously that has an |impact on the pool because the water levels dropped.

“There were a few other consequences: the water |became murky again and, |because the water was not circulating, we had a build up of chlorine.

“You could smell the chlorine and taste it and that had an effect on the health of the swimmers.

“At the end of the day all our decisions are based on what’s best for our swimmers. So we decided to can the programme for today.”

As a result of two missed days of events, all races will now be swum as “timed finals”, effectively meaning the fastest swimmer in the heats will be declared national champion – without the need for semi-finals and finals.

That way the programme will be completed by the scheduled close of the Championships on Saturday.

After witnessing some of his fellow swimmers emerging from their warm-ups scratching their skin and some even struggling to breathe, Olympic champion Chad le Clos opted not to risk the murky water yesterday morning.

While the London gold medallist admitted the situation wasn’t ideal in terms of getting World Championships qualifying times under his belt, he said it’s really the up and coming swimmers that will be worst affected by the situation.

“Straight finals can work for the top guys because I think the top guys will qualify.

“But it’s hard for the younger guys who haven’t made a name for themselves yet and want to try and get to |the finals and try and make the (World Championships) team.”

As for his own situation, Le Clos added: “It doesn’t affect me long term, but for now it will play with my mind a bit. I’m not so safe (without a qualifying time).

“I have my 21st next weekend – and I want to have a party but I might have to rethink that.

“But there’s nothing we can do about the pool. We have to let the municipality take care of it and come back tomorrow,” he added.

Swimming South Africa have since confirmed that their selection criteria for July’s World Championships in Barcelona will need to be amended following this week’s events.

Initially swimmers had to obtain qualifying times at this event.

“Obviously we’ll have to re-look the qualification process for world champs because under these conditions, it |really puts a lot of strain on swimmers.

“We don’t want to put strain on the swimmers,” said Swimming South Africa’s High Performance Manager Dean Price.

“We want them to do their best so we’ll bring out revised conditions for world champs.

“But right now we just want to give every kid the opportunity of racing at these championships.

“And obviously the titles are up for grabs and that’s what we hope to provide the swimmers – with the opportunity of |becoming national champions.” – The Star

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