Sport Ministry, GASA working to get Olympic hopefuls back in the pool

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The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., recently met with executives of the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA), where discussions on the resumption of training for Olympic hopefuls and national swimmers were held.

The Minister met with the Association’s President Dwayne Scott, Vice-President Randolph Dos Santos and Treasurer Valmikki Singh, along with coach Sean Baksh and swimmers Andrew Fowler and Alika Persaud.

With sport activities allowed to resume, pending approval of the Minister of Health, since November 1, 2020, swimming is one discipline that did not make a restart, given that swimming pools, by functional design, bring people into close proximity.

According to a FINA return-to-the-pool guideline, normal pool sanitation with chlorine has been shown to inactivate the COVID-19 virus.

FINA has received confirmation of this through a recent study conducted by the University Medical Centre of Utrecht (NED), providing evidence that COVID-19 inactivation occurs in chlorinated water at conditions that are acceptable to swimmers.

As such, Scott said the Minister asked for them to prepare a list of swimmers they want to resume training at the National Aquatic Centre at Liliendaal, and explained how they plan on safeguarding the swimmers.

Apart from the Olympic Games this year, the CARIFTA Swimming Championships are still scheduled for April in Barbados.

“We discussed working with our Olympic athletes to be able to get back into training, and all our other athletes who are looking to take part in events this year,” Scott explained.

The swimming head indicated that discussions in this regard were fruitful, and measures for the safe return of the sport could be finalised soon.

Leon Seaton Jr., Jamila Sanmoogan and Andre Fowler are currently the three Olympic hopefuls; Seaton Jr. is on FINA scholarship in the United States of America. Sanmoogan is expected to train in Guyana until she returns to Colombia to complete her scholarship.

The GASA head said once they can prepare a budget, they could receive assistance from the Ministry for their Olympic hopefuls. This is in addition to support from the Guyana Olympic Association.

Scott further revealed that they are hoping for permission to be granted for sessions to resume at the Castellani Pool. The Colgrain Pool will be designated a clinic for young swimmers.

“They [Sport Ministry] are working on some improvements at the Aquatic Centre, Colgrain and subsequently, he is working to give us access to Castellani. Colgrain should be up and running before the end of the month, and maybe by the end of March-April, access should be given to Castellani,” Scott revealed.

Scott further discussed plans for the expansion of swimming outside of Georgetown to areas such as Linden, Berbice, and Uitvlugt, since at some of those locations there is already basic infrastructure.

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