Yokohama International Swimming Pool is due to be used as a facility for the pre-Games preparation camps of the British Olympic and Paralympic teams for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
An internationally approved swimming pool, it has played host to a number of major international tournaments, such as the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, in which top swimmers like Ian Thorpe and Kosuke Kitajima participated.
Yokohama International Swimming Pool is located in close proximity to Kita-Yamata Station on the Yokohama Municipal Subway Green Line. The large steps leading up to the pool have been decorated with messages and banner flags proclaiming, “GO GB 2020”, which are sure to make you feel more and more welcoming with every step!
For this issue, we spoke with Ms. Hiromi Abe, a manager at Konami Sports Co., Ltd., the designated manager of Yokohama International Swimming Pool, about the features of this facility and their preparedness for hosting the British teams.
As both a much-loved facility in the local community and an internationally approved swimming pool
Yokohama International Swimming Pool functions as both a sports facility used by members of the public and a sports stadium which plays host to major domestic and international tournaments in its capacity as an internationally approved swimming pool. As manager, it is my duty along with around 100 members of staff to deal with visitors and manage safety at the pool on a day-to-day basis, as well as to prepare for and administer major tournaments at such times these are held.
There are many familiar faces who come to use our facilities regularly, and we always make sure to greet everyone with courtesy and ask how they are doing in terms of their physical condition.
Main Pool during the summer season, Sports Floor during the winter season
The Main Pool, an internationally approved 50 m swimming pool with approximately 4,000 spectator seats running along both sides.
The Main Pool changes aspect during the winter season, becoming the Sports Floor. It is also known widely as the home arena of the Yokohama B-Corsairs, a professional basketball team based in Yokohama.
The Main Arena of Yokohama International Swimming Pool is extremely unusual in that it is used as the Main Pool during the summer season (from May until September) and as the Sports Arena during the winter season (from November until March). There is a transition period of around a month, as we need to gradually drain the pool to convert it into a floor.
The Sub Pool, one of the nation’s biggest internationally approved 50 m swimming pools, can be used all year round.
The existence of professional staff who help organise tournaments from behind the scenes
—— What kinds of things to you pay particular attention to as an internationally approved swimming pool?
The water in our swimming pools is like a living creature. The water’s condition changes daily, even hourly. Needless to say, as an internationally approved swimming pool, it is vital that we constantly maintain the water in a good condition, and leaks or machinery defects are something we cannot afford to let happen. We have 20 members of staff constantly monitoring the room temperature, water quality, water temperature, water depth, etc. of the pools. In fact, it is very difficult to increase the water temperature of pools, so water temperature checks also need to be performed during the night. In addition, pool users will notice a bigger temperature difference if the difference between room temperature and water temperature is severe, which is why controlling the air conditioning is another important job.
Professional staff members work in the Control Room around the clock.
Staff members carry out water quality tests every hour to maintain a safe water quality level.
All of our members of staff work hard to administer and maintain Yokohama International Swimming Pool as a safe and secure sports facility.
We are preparing to welcome the British teams in a variety of different ways.
Gym with a view of trees, available for use by beginners and professionals alike.
—— As a facility, what kinds of preparations do you intend to put in place to welcome the British teams?
We need to put in place the special preparations for the British teams and elite athletes, which is why we are making efforts with the British teams to ensure tomeet their requirements. During the year 2018, we renewed our starting blocks and lane ropes for competitive swimming events. And we are sure the improvements would make the facility better-equipped and more attractive also for local users.
In January this year, we conducted an anti-terrorism drill at Yokohama International Swimming Pool, in which around 150 people participated, including representatives from such organizations as Yokohama International Swimming Pool, Tsuzuki Police Station, Tsuzuki Ward Office, Tsuzuki Fire Corps, and Tsuzuki Fire Department. All related organizations are cooperating in taking all possible measures to ensure safety.
In addition, in the Entrance Hall, we are endeavoring to foster a welcoming atmosphere for the British teams through a panel display on the UK and a countdown display for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Panel display giving people the chance to find out more about the British teams.
The Tsuzuki Junior Times published an article on the Japan Para Swimming Championships, which were held at Yokohama International Swimming Pool.
“Tsuzuki Junior Times (TJ) Issue 10”, a newspaper featuring articles by young reporters in the Tsuzuki area. You can also find a GO GB special at this link!
Message for the British teams
Our cheerful staff members are ready to welcome you with a smile.
We staff members will do everything we can to help everyone in the British teams to get used to and adjust to their new environment in Japan as soon as possible. In the spirit of “omotenashi”, we hope to be able to provide the kind of fastidious hospitality that Japan is renowned for. The preparation camps are a great opportunity for more people to find out about the attractions of Yokohama and Yokohama International Swimming Pool. We would like to share this rare opportunity with all citizens of Yokohama.
The pre-Games preparation camp of the British Olympic team for the Tokyo 2020 Games at Yokohama International Swimming Pool is scheduled to begin in early July 2020. In addition, the pre-Games preparation camp of the British aquatics team has now also been set for the same month. Therefore, it is not long now until Yokohama International Swimming Pool opens its doors for the first time to the British teams.
We wish to lend our full support as citizens of Yokohama to allow the British teams to train in comfort, under the slogan of “GO GB 2020”.
Text: Kimiko Nishikawa, GOGB column writer
Photography: Osamu Sueyoshi, GOGB cameraman