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Olympic synchronized swimmers must have breathed a sigh of relief when they walked into the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center Sunday morning.
After officials worked overnight to drain the now-infamous green water from the competition pool, swimmers were greeted by the familiar sight of clear blue water, which was transferred (nearly 1 million gallons) from a nearby practice pool in time for synchronized preliminaries to begin Sunday morning.
“It looks as it should this morning. It’s fine, it’s perfect, it’s ready for competition,” said spokesman Mario Andrada.
After days of trying to clean the water, officials finally, on Saturday, decided to completely drain the pool. Ultimately, clear water was needed for competitors in the synchronized event so they could see their teammates underwater. The change was important for proper judging, too.
The adjacent diving pool also has been affected, but with competition ongoing the water could not be replaced. Officials acknowledged that while it is certainly not in optimal condition, the water is safe.
“We might need another cycle of 12 hours so the water can change its look,” Adrada said.
After days of searching for an explanation for the discoloration, director of venue management Gustavo Nascimento said Saturday the mistake originated from a hired contractor who added hydrogen peroxide to the pool, which, in turn, impacted the pool’s electronic management system, which measures chlorine quantity.
Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski broke down the ordeal in detail.
The pool also has been used for water polo in addition to synchronized swimming. After the U.S. men defeated France on Wednesday, American captain Tony Azevedo told reporters he could “barely open his eyes” during the final quarter of the match. Nascimento attributed that discomfort to “fixing the chemistry” of the pool, but maintained it “did not put the athletes’ health and safety at risk.”
Andrada said Saturday that the problem should have been fixed in a swifter manner.
“Of course we’re embarrassed,” said Andrada. “We are hosting the Olympic Games. The world is here. The water should be light blue and transparent. And we should have done a better job fixing it quickly. We learned painful lessons the hard way.”
Greg Wyshynski contributed to this post.
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