SPORTS

Sinking feeling for swimmers

Swimmers in Greece have got that sinking feeling this winter, as more than 10 swimming centers, operated by the state or local authorities have closed down, mostly due to lack of funds to secure heating.

To their dismay, thousands of children and amateur athletes as well as dozens of clubs across Greece have seen the «Closed» signs on the doors of several public swimming pools, which is yet another effect of the growing financial crisis in the country.

In the capital the swimming pools of Aghios Cosmas, Alimos, Haidari and Ano Liosia have been closed for a while this winter, with several others struggling to make ends meet due to the cuts imposed by local authorities and the General Secretariat for Sports.

Problems are even greater outside Athens, with major swimming centers being forced to close at Chania on Crete, Pyrgos in the Peloponnese, Komotini and Xanthi in Thrace, Arta in Epirus, Volos in Thessaly and Grevena in Macedonia. Some of them have closed down on a permanent basis.

In addition to that, the City of Kavala in eastern Macedonia announced that the swimming center it operates will have to close down as of January 1st due to the extensive damage it suffered by the weather conditions a few days ago.

“This certainly was not an easy decision,» mayor Costis Simitsis stated. «We are aware that more than 1,000 people – athletes and citizens – will be deprived of the sports service this ultramodern unit offers, but it is compulsory to close it down for some time so as to repair the damage it has incurred.”

The two main swimming pools of Thessaloniki, Ethniko and Possidonio, also had to close down this fall for some time (the Ethniko twice), as the state had not paid the bill to the local gas company.

The situation does not only water down the sports activity of people and sports clubs, but also puts at risk the jobs of hundreds of employees such as trainers and coaches.