Emma Hippolyte and Shawn Edward were handling heavy machinery on Monday evening, as the sod was turned for the island’s National Aquatic Centre.
The ceremony was attended by former Gros Islet Members of Parliament, Julian Hunte and Mario Michel, and members of the swimming fraternity, including the executive of the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association.
Speaking were a representative of the contractors, MArrow International, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) James Chang, Minister of Sport Edward and Member of Parliament for Gros Islet Hippolyte.
The feature remarks were delivered Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, who called on the Minister of Sports to speak to plans for the development of swimming in his (the Prime Minister’s) constituency, Vieux Fort. He also called on the Ministries of Education and Sport as well as the Swimming Association to ensure there are enough programmes to ensure the facility is well used.
“This afternoon’s ceremony clearly brings joy to so many people,” said Dr Anthony. “Great joy to swimmers, amateur and professional; great joy to their community of supporters; the parents; the coaches; all of those who want to see Saint Lucia become a mecca for swimming in the Caribbean and the region.”
Recognising the efforts of Saint Lucian swimmers and administrators, Dr Anthony praised the Worrell family for starting the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre, a privately-owned facility, and went on to express the hope that the new National Aquatic Centre and Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre could co-exist and contribute to the continued growth and development of the sport.
The PM spoke to the fact that when the National Aquatic Centre is completed, it will complete a quartet of national facilities within less than a kilometre of each other – the Beausejour Stadium, Beausejour Gynmasium and National Tennis Centre being the other three.
The National Aquatic Centre will include a 50-metre pool, built to international standards and capable of hosting regional and international meets, as well as a 500-seat pavilion. Work on the centre is underway. The facility is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.