By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
The Bahamas Swimming Federation is all set to host its National Swimming Championships at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex June 20-23. And once again, the championships will be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada.
Lowe’s Wholesale Drug Agency Limited, celebrating its 60th anniversary, has also come on board to assist the BSF in the staging of the 42nd annual swim meet.
The complex has currently been closed for renovations by the National Sports Authority, which has resumed the maintenance of all of the sporting facilities within the Queen Elizabeth Sports Complex, including the original and new Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium, the Kendal Isaacs Gym and Baillou Hills Sports Complex.
The plan is that all sporting bodies wishing to utilise any of the facilities will have to apply to the NSA, headed by Leroy Archer, rather than the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, whose minister is Dr Daniel Johnson.
Since taking over about a year ago, some of the sporting bodies have complained about the exorbitant fees that are being charged for the use of the facilities.
But Archer, in defense of the price increases, noted that all of the facilities have to be properly maintained and, as such, the fees are imposed.
The NSA, to their credit, did a fantastic job in getting the new stadium ready for three major events that took place recently, starting with the BTC CARIFTA Games over the Easter holiday weekend, the inaugural Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational in May and ending up with the exhibition soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur from the Premier League in England and the Jamaican “Reggae Boyz.”
Now the focus shifts to the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex where the BSF will be in the spotlight when they host their national championships.
Taking a look at the infrastructure during a press conference on Thursday by the federation to announce their partnership of Lowe’s Wholesale Drug Agency Limited, there was clear indication that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done over the next week to bring the stadium up to par.
Nicholas Rees, a second vice president of the federation, said he’s confident that although there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, the stadium will be in tip-top shape by the time they start competing on Thursday, June 20.
“I think it’s unfortunate, but I know they will get it together,” Rees said. “The NSA has closed down the pool. It’s not accessible to our swimmers. They are shock treating it. So hopefully the pool will be opened by Monday or Tuesday. That’s what they told us. But there’s a lot of work to be done. We can only wait.”
One comment that Rees made and I concur with it is that the NSA should turn the facilities over to the federation and allow them to be responsible for the upkeep because they have the knowledge of what is required to maintain it. They can control their own destiny.
I would think that the same could be done with the original TAR Stadium. The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations should be allowed to take possession and conduct the maintenance and operation of the facility. In that way, they can ensure the better usage for all of the athletes and clubs involved.
The new stadium is a different story.
I think it should remain in the hands of the NSA, which serves as an independent body because there are so much intricacies that come with its operation from maintenance to hosting the many events, including sporting and social that will be a part of the calendar.
With the BAAA taking its National Open Track and Field Championships to Grand Bahama next weekend, the focus of attention here will be on the BSF’s Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships.
And based on what I’ve seen at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get it ready.
But I am certain that as they did in getting the original and the new TAR Stadium ready, the NSA will rise again to bring the swim complex to the level that will make the federation executives, swimmers and the spectators all proud when they attend the four-day meet.