On the heels of its successful program in Thanyapura, Thailand and its partnership with Spire in Geneva, Ohio, FINA is supporting a 3rd FINA Training Center, and first one in Africa.
The newest center like Spire and Thanyapura is affiliated with FINA’s scholarship program designed to give athletes from underdeveloped countries access to training support necessary to achieve world-class times. The 36 athletes chosen for this year’s program can take advantage of FINA-approved training opportunities within their own federation, or instead choose to go one of the now 3 training centers around the world to live and train full time.
The new facility is part of the existing Piscine Olympique in Senegal’s capital of Dakar. Dakar is a city of 1.1 million residents in Senegal on the very Western tip of Africa.
“The center itself exists already but FINA will upgrade the existing facilities to international standards,” a FINA spokesperson said. As it sits now, the center has a 50 meter pool, a separate 25m diving well, a diving pool, an electronic timing system, dormitories, a gym, restaurant, dry-land area, and other multi-purpose rooms. The wide range of facilities already there, even if some need upgrades, makes it an idea site for the FINA center of excellence.
“The program to develop the FINA Development Center in Dakar will provide the opportunity to the whole African continent, and more specifically to the West and Central National Federations, to have an accessible High Performance Training Center in their region,” the spokesperson said. “Through carrying out the training programs in Thanyapura and Spire we’ve got the experience to say that any talented athlete with the right program, structure and environment can become a great athlete. Last year only, the FINA Scholarships Program helps holders got several qualifying standard times to participate in the Olympic Games, established more than 120 National Records and other continental achievements.”
Among the success stories of the last round of funding was El Salvador’s Marcelo Acosta, who became his country’s first-ever swimmer to achieve an Olympic “A” cut. Acosta has just completed his sophomore season at the University of Louisville in the United States, where he placed 10th in the 1650 free at the NCAA Championships. Khader Bagalah from Jordan became his country’s first-ever swimmer to achieve even a FINA Olympic “B” qualifying time, and he too is now competing and studying in the American collegiate system.