THE prolonged closure of the Penang International Sports Arena’s (PISA) main swimming pool and diving pool has raised the ire of swimmers and state athletes.
Julian Chong, the father of an Under-12 state synchronised swimmer, expressed his dismay at the loss of the training venue and claimed the pools had been leaking since February.
“In March, the Malaysian Games (Sukma) swimmers heading for Malacca had to move to the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) pool to train.
“Being an outdoor pool, the water was very warm and not ideal as a training ground for the swimmers,” Chong said.
He said the pool condition with limited training lanes was one of the reasons the state swimming team performed so dismally at Sukma in June with only one silver and one bronze medal.
Chong said the state synchronised swimmers were currently training at the Bukit Jambul Country Club (BJCC).
“In BJCC, we are not allowed to play music as it will disturb other club members.
“At first, we used to hit metal at the side of the pool to keep the beat for the swimmers but this was discouraged as well,” Choong said.
He also expressed concern over the state government’s decision to link the pool repairs with the construction of the Penang International Convention Centre (PICC).
“First of all, with all the objections from the public, we are not even sure if the PICC project will be pushed through,” said Chong.
Meanwhile, parent Loke Kee Sook, 43, said the closure of the diving pool has left the state’s divers in a predicament.
He said his daughter Shin Hui, 13, who delivered a silver medal with partner Teoh Wen Zhing in the women’s 10m synchronised diving in this year’s Sukma, had not been able to train in water for two months.
“Now all she can do is physical exercises at the MSN (Penang Sports Council) centre (in Batu Uban).
“She’s building up her strength and practising the tumbles, but there’s no way for her to practise her timing or entrances into the water,” Kee Sook said.
He added that several swimming venues in the state had been approached to provide training sites, but problems had arisen with either the clubs’ management or inadequate diving facilities (platforms and springboards).
“The situation is very worrying, especially with the next national-level diving competition next month.
“At this rate, we may need to go down to Ipoh to train,” Kee Sook said.
Members of the public have also expressed concern at the loss of a public pool.
Chargeman Chee Soon Heng, 39, who had visited the PISA pool quite regularly before its closure, hoped the leaks could be repaired soon,
“Now I swim at my apartment pool, but the PISA pool is much bigger and nicer.
“The environment there is very nice for swimming and the easy parking and minimal fee makes it very convenient for the public,” said Chee.
When contacted, Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) secretary Ang Aing Thye said the repairs to the pools would be the first priority for the company awarded the PICC tender.
He said the repairs would even be given priority before PICC’s construction.
“The pool repairs are quite major and are part of the package under the tender which will close (for applications) at the end of the month,” he said.
It was announced last month that the PISA main pool and diving pool would be closed indefinitely to facilitate repairs.
Ang said MPPP needed time to evaluate the tender applicants and hoped to award the tender before the end of the year.
“After the tender is awarded, the pool will be repaired and opened,” Ang said, declining to commit to a time frame.