The University Observer can exclusively reveal that the new UCD Student Centre is in the running to serve as the pre-London 2012 Olympics base for at least three European National swimming teams.
UCD Student Centre Manager Dominic O’Keeffe told The University Observer that the Vice Chair of the Swedish Olympic Association and a group of Swedish National Swimming Team delegates visited UCD on March 22nd to inspect the facilities. “We had them on a tour looking for 900 bed nights for about 35 people to come here,” said O’ Keefe.
The delegation was taken on a tour of catering facilities including the main restaurant and viewed the accommodation facilities at Roebuck Castle, Roebuck 2 and Glenomena. Details with regard to the accommodation of entourage and commuting times to London were also discussed. “They were more than impressed with the facilities of UCD,” O’Keeffe said. “They looked at bringing a second sport along with swimming, so we said we could accommodate that but you know; all these things are negotiable.”
However, the team are also looking at an area in Northern Italy for an Olympics base.
O’Keeffe also pointed toward an educational advantage should the Swedish team choose UCD: “They’re based in Gothenburg too so they spoke about the Erasmus programme and education and so there could be links improved as well there.”
Sweden is not the only country to have expressed interest in the facility: “We have two opportunities with the Dutch Team who actually want to come and have a look at it and with Germany want to come here as well. So fingers crossed we’re going well on that front in the international market,” O’Keeffe said. “If it’s not the Swedish it might be the Dutch and the Germans might even come here, so it’d be an even bigger team.”
O’Keeffe understood that a final decision with regard to the choice of venue by the Swedish team would be made around September of this year following consultation with the national Olympic Federation.
However he was eager to emphasise that Olympic ambitions were “a by-product of what we’re trying to produce. We’re trying to produce the student facility really at the end of the day.”
O’ Keefe explained that as a result of a “slippage in the programme due to weather, technical problems and building ability,” the projected opening date for the new Student Centre is now January 2012. “It’s more about the quality of the building than the actual opening date,” he stated. “Hopefully sometime in January of 2012 we’ll be in it.”