All was well in the end, but it will take the 24 members of the Meyrin synchronised swimming club from Geneva a long time to forget their trip to Torremolinos. Nineteen of the girls suffered slight chlorine poisoning after inhaling the chemical when a leak occurred as they were training at the municipal swimming pool.
The team arrived on Sunday, accompanied by their two trainers. This wasn’t their first visit to Torremolinos; they also came last year to train before the start of the competition season.
They completed their first training session satisfactorily on Monday, and Tuesday began as usual, with breakfast at eight o’clock and exercises in the pool at nine.
Everything was normal until, after a few minutes, the water in the swimming pool began to bubble.
“It was like a jacuzzi,” says Saskia Bossy, one of the trainers. “The girls were wearing goggles, and they said the bottom of the pool had gone yellow”. Then, the youngsters began to have breathing problems. “They couldn’t stop coughing, their throats were sore and some of them were vomiting,” she says.
The girls were in the outside pool, and the trainers made them get out of the water quickly, while staff called for help. Within a few minutes the police and ambulances arrived, and 19 of the girls, aged between nine and 17, were taken for medical attention. The two who had suffered the worst effects from the chlorine were taken by ambulance to the Clínico hospital, and the rest were treated at the Materno hospital and health centres in Torremolinos.
“The emergency services acted very quickly and effectively,” says Saskia Bossy. “All the girls were able to return later that morning, so we had lunch together and then trained in the indoor pool in the afternoon. It was frightening for the girls at the time, but they were fine when they realised nothing awful had happened to them. We’re not going to make a drama over this. It won’t put us off coming to Torremolinos again.”
Torremolinos council and the National Police have begun investigations into the incident, but at first sight it looks as though the chlorine leak occurred as the result of a fault in the machinery for the outside pool. That pool has now been closed while the investigation continues and any necessary repairs are carried out so it can be used again.