Water-lovers at IITM finally have reason to cheer. On Sunday, 26th January, the institute swimming pool was opened after extensive renovations that lasted over two and a half years. The swimming facility, with its impressive set of diving boards and beginners’ pool that adjoins the larger pool, has always been among IITM’s finest sports facilities, and the renovated pool boasts of a new addition – a ramp leading into the beginners’ pool, designed to make the swimming pool accessible to differently abled people.
The opening ceremony of the renovated swimming pool took place on the morning of Republic Day and was followed by a swimming competition. Attendees included Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, Prof. L.S. Ganesh, Dean (Students), Prof. K.P. Sudheer, Sports Adviser, and the Guest of Honour, Ms. Madhavi Latha, who is a paralympic swimming champion.
The swimming pool was constructed in 1976 – interestingly, students helped out with the digging of the pool. Twice in the recent past, in 2004 and 2008, it underwent repairs, but when, in 2011, the pool closed for renovations, few people anticipated that it would take so long to reopen. A timeline of a few months stretched into years, since the leakage problems with the swimming pool were discovered to be very complicated – as Prof. L.S. Ganesh put it, the swimming pool required ‘major surgery and reconstruction’ before it could be reopened. The pool has been redesigned by the engineering unit and is now slightly bigger than it was in 2011: its length has increased from 49.8m to 50m, which is the full Olympic size, and its width has been increased from 21.77m to 24m. The shallow beginners’ pool has also been made larger, in addition to being newly equipped with a ramp.
The long delays aside, most people are very happy with the state of the renovated swimming pool. Ms. Madhavi Latha, in her address to the audience at the venue, said that the inclusion of a ramp in our swimming pool makes it the first such swimming pool in India, and requested that differently abled persons from outside the campus be allowed to utilise this facility. The reopening of the pool has also been awaited eagerly by the institute swimming and waterpolo teams, who have trained for the last three Inter-IIT Aquatics tournaments at the Velachery Aquatics Centre. And, of course, the average campus resident can now add to his/her arsenal of weapons against the Chennai heat – by heading to the pool and swimming a few laps.