Critics say pool is too short to meet Olympic standard

Portsmouth's Olympic swimmer Katy Sexton in the Mountbatten pool
Portsmouth's Olympic swimmer Katy Sexton in the Mountbatten pool
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A ROW has broken out over whether the pool at Portsmouth’s newest sports complex lives up to its Olympic billing.

Tory councillors in Portsmouth City Council have accused the leading Lib Dem group of mistakes in their bid to have an Olympic pool built at the Mountbatten Centre.

The centre is operated by Parkwood Leisure, which describes the £5m pool as ‘Olympic-sized’ and ‘Olympic-standard’.

But Tories say the pool, part of a £20m investment in the Alexandra Park, Stamshaw, centre, is two inches too short to be used by Olympic athletes.

Lib Dems deny the claim, but admit touch-sensitive ‘time boards’ necessary for the Olympic Games would take up around two inches, meaning the pool would not be suitable.

However they say it fulfils all the regulations to be used for training, during which stopwatches are used for timing.

Tory councillor Jim Fleming said: ‘It’s a mistake. It’s not long enough to meet Olympic standards.

‘It was a council mix-up, a failure to deliver, and the cabinet should admit it and apologise to the city.’

And Tory Cllr Donna Jones said: ‘It may be there was no plan for the pool to be used in competition, but the centre was to be used as a training centre for Olympic athletes, including swimmers. ‘

The pool has a certificate of approval from the Amateur Swimming Association and one from an international swimming body which says it is ‘within the acceptable tolerances’ of the organisation.

The council’s leader for sport, Cllr Lee Hunt, said: ‘It was never to be used for the Olympics. It can be used for training and competitions.

‘But it was designed to have eight lanes, without two empty outside lanes necessary for international racing.

‘It was developed in partnership with national sporting bodies and we were aware of this when voting for it.’