Portsmouth 50m swimming pool too narrow to host Olympic Games

SIZE The width of the Mountbatten Centre pool means it cannot host top flight competitive swimming.
SIZE The width of the Mountbatten Centre pool means it cannot host top flight competitive swimming.

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PORTSMOUTH’S newest swimming pool is long enough to meet Olympic standards, the city council has insisted.

But the pool does not have the width it would need for the Games to be held there.

The council measured the pool at the £5m Mountbatten Centre again after it became the subject of a row over whether it could accurately be called an Olympic-standard facility.

As reported in The News, Tory councillors claimed it fell short of the 50m length required for Olympic races.

The council said in response that the pool was long enough for training purposes, but did not include extra space for touch-sensitive timing touchpads to be inserted at either end. These pads are necessary for Olympic competitions.

The council has since measured the pool and found it is 50m and 3cm long, meaning that the touch pads, which take up 1.5 cm each, would fit in.

But while the issue of the length has been resolved, the pool still would not be suitable for the Games – because it is not wide enough.

This is because Olympic pools require 10 lanes – eight for racers, and empty lanes on either side.

The Mountbatten pool only has eight lanes.

Portsmouth City Council says the pool was never intended to be used for Olympic competition – only for training. And it does have a certificate from the Amateur Swimming Association which declares the pool suitable for competitions.

The response came after critics questioned whether it should still be advertised as an ‘Olympic’ pool in the light of its shortcomings.

Portsmouth City Council’s leader for sport, Cllr Lee Hunt, said: ‘Claims that the pool can’t be used for competitions are wrong.

‘It’s Olympic length and can be used for Olympic training, but it was never to be used for the Olympic Games themselves. Everyone knew that when they voted on it.’