Swimming coach: Building a new Agana pool is not the answer

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The Agana Pool is said to be beyond repair. (PNC file photo)

A decision over the future of the Agana pool is being debated by the governor’s office. Should we fix it? Or should we build a whole new pool?

Guam’s Swimming Federation President says a new pool is not the way to go, with the costs and length of time it would require.

Ed Ching says over the past 5 years, he estimates Guam’s public pools have been closed for about 3 of them.

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Ching, who’s also the head coach for the Manhoben Swim Club, says the constant pool closure not only affects the athletes but also the island’s overall health, disenfranchising the elderly and those who are injured and needing water exercise.

He also says that by shutting down the pools, you also shut down opportunities for high competition.

“Also, because of the coming of the box jellyfish, it stopped people from swimming in the ocean or even working out in the water, because it’s truly difficult. Also, training in the ocean, there are a lot of times we train on land, do a land workout and then get in the ocean to try to warm down on the muscles and get it loose. But that’s not good for training for high international and Olympic standards,” Ching said.

He says he knows the governor is trying to do something, which he says is more than he can say about previous administrations. But Ching says building a new pool isn’t the answer since maintenance has always been what’s dogging the pools.

“I don’t think, and I disagree with their estimate that it’s better to build a new pool. That would be great to build a new pool…but where are you going to put it?” And how much is that going to cost? And how long is it going to be maintained? How will it be maintained? A lot of this is because the government doesn’t know how to maintain,” Ching said.

The swim coach says he knows there’s a lot of pressure on the GovGuam budget.

“There’s a tremendous competition for money. So to talk about building a new pool, which will take several million dollars to do it and do it properly … Repairs will be around $250,000…a new pool is a million maybe closer to $2 million to do it properly…now, where are you going to get the money?” Ching asked.

He’s hoping GovGuam will be able to avail itself of federal grants in order to pay for pool repairs, and keep it high on its priority list.

“You cannot just say we’ll get money from the public, it’s hard! For entry fees to use the pool…you’re looking at $30, $40, $50 bucks a day and that’s it. You’re not going to be able to maintain a pool correctly and keep it up on that, it needs to be subsidized by the government,” he said.

Ching says his swim team has had to use Ypao Beach for training since private pools on island are too expensive for the swim federation. Typically, using the Agana Pool is at no cost to the swim federation.

The governor’s office held a meeting late Friday afternoon to discuss the future of the Agana Pool.

Roke Alcantra, Department of Parks Recreation Director, attended the meeting to present relevant information about the Agana facility. However, he says ultimately, it’s an executive decision.

An RFP to fix the Dededo Pool’s filtration system, meantime, has been released to the public and Alcantra is hoping for proposals by the end of Friday to at least get that pool running, before the end of the year.

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Mai Habib
Mai Habib is a radio and television broadcaster and journalist originally from Toronto, Canada. She worked at CTV News and CFRA in Canada for over 5-years, where she was a reporter, anchor and show host. After a brief stop in Canadian politics and the non-profit world, she's happy to be back at the news desk on Guam. Mai is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program and completed her Master's in International Affairs and Public Policy at Carleton University. She is excited to be reporting on Guam's current affairs, legislature and other topical issues.