YMCA reopens pools
AFTER being closed for approximately three months to facilitate the restoration and upgrading of its pools and changing rooms, the Kingston YMCA's swimming programme is now back in full operation following the official reopening and dedication ceremony last Wednesday.
The YMCA, which has been in operation since the 1920s, is nationally known for its excellent swimming programme; and the facilities were greatly in need of restoration. Now with a well refurbished swimming area, Arnold Aiken, chairman of the Kingston YMCA, said funding support from external organisations has resulted in the restoration of the pools and upgraded changing rooms, which will help to foster the talents of young and upcoming swimmers.
"We knew the pools had reached a point where they needed to be renovated; and, therefore, we decided to send out a call for financial support to accomplish the project. I am happy to say that many civic minded companies and organisation responded to our call; and their contributions have made the project possible," he said.
The renovation work cost approximately $6.6 million, and the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation contributed funds to cover approximately 70 per cent of the cost.
While commending the JNBS Foundation, Aiken also expressed the association's gratitude to other sponsors, which included Burger King, the Sports Development Foundation and LIME.
Julian Robinson, member of parliament for South East St Andrew, while pledging his support to ensure that the 'Y' remains the premiere institution for swimming and other vocational services, said the restoration of the swimming facilities will assist with the development of local swimmers.
"We have the talent here for swimming to become as highly recognised as track and field; but, a part of the challenge is that pools are not readily accessible to the majority of Jamaicans. If children are not exposed at a very young age to proper swimming techniques and receive consistent training, then they won't develop into top-class swimmers," the MP stated.
He also pointed out that an institution such as the 'Y' provides an opportunity for youngsters to at least learn the basics of swimming at an early age; and progressively nurture their talent.
Guest Speaker, Parris Lyew-Ayee, JNBS Foundation Board Director, implored schools to include swimming as part of their curriculum, noting that swimming goes beyond simply being a physical activity.
"Separate and apart from being a recreational activity, swimming is perhaps one of the only sports that teaches survival skills, which children can develop even before they can actually walk or talk. The skills gained in being confident in water will never leave you; and, at some point, they will become useful, as one progresses through life," he noted.
As of May 14 swimming classes resumed at the YMCA; and students from approximately 29 schools will return to continue their lessons.