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Portsmouth redefines the Olympic-sized swimming pool

Shaves two inches off accepted standard

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Portsmouth has delivered a serious blow to attempts to have the Olympic-sized swimming pool recognised as an official unit of measurement, by shaving two inches off the standard length.

Despite efforts by we here at El Reg and, notably, the BBC, to promote the handy volume, Portsmouth Council has blown it big time by punting the new pool at its Mountbatten Centre as truly Olympic when it's two touch-sensitive time boards short of a full swim.

According to the Portsmouth News, the pool is the required 50 metres long, but someone forgot that you have to stick the time boards at each end, meaning a small but significant reduction in size.

Pool operator Parkwood Leisure trumpets the new facility as "Olympic-sized" and "Olympic-standard", and Tory councillors have wasted no time taking the ruling LibDems to task over this scandalous misdescription.

Tory councillor Jim Fleming summarised: "It’s a mistake. It’s not long enough to meet Olympic standards. It was a council mix-up, a failure to deliver, and the cabinet should admit it and apologise to the city."

Fellow Conservative Donna Jones elaborated: "The way it was sold to us was we would be hosting an Olympic team of swimmers for training for the 2012 games.

"But now we're being told the pool is two inches too short and as a result the city will lose millions of pounds of revenue along with cash grants. The amateurs will be happy with the pool but not top level athletes."

The LibDems defend that it's fine for training, as long as athletes rely on a stopwatch rather than the aforementioned time boards.

The council’s leader for sport, councillor Lee Hunt, offered: "It was never to be used for the Olympics. It can be used for training and competitions.

"But it was designed to have eight lanes, without two empty outside lanes necessary for international racing. It was developed in partnership with national sporting bodies and we were aware of this when voting for it."

This is all well and good, but while Portsmouth Tories and LibDems bicker about just what purpose the pool actually serves, there are serious repercussions for we hacks who rely on the Olympic-sized swimming pool to explain extravagant volumes.

The BBC recently reported that Indonesian mud volcano Lusi is spewing out "180,000 cubic metres of mud a day, equivalent to 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools".

The question is now whether that's international standard Olympic-sized swimming pools, or Portsmouth Olympic-sized swimming pools, and if we use the latter, just how many elephants per second that represents.

We expect an International Olympic Committee ruling on the matter in due course. ®

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