Rio 2016: Olympic pool back to blue for synchronized swimming

RIO DE JANEIRO – Goodbye, green. Hello again, blue. Hope you can stick around a while.

Synchronized swimmers were greeted by clear blue water in the competition pool Sunday at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center after officials worked through the night to replace murky green water that’s become a big embarrassment for Rio Games organizers.

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    Olympic officials said the reason the pool turned green in the first place was because someone mistakenly added more than 40 gallons of hydrogen peroxide, which allowed “organic compounds” to grow, the New York Times reports.

    Replacing the water in time for the early-morning training and competition at 11 a.m. local time was a significant challenge – the pool holds nearly 1 million gallons.

    It was expected to take 10 hours to drain and replace the pool water, Gustavo Nascimento, the director of venue management for the Olympics, told the Times. 

    Rio Games spokesperson Mario Andrada apologized for the mishap at a press conference on Saturday.

    READ MORE:  What to watch in week 2 of the Olympics

    “Of course it’s an embarrassment,” he said. “We are hosting the Olympic Games and athletes are here so water is going to be an issue. We should have been better in fixing it quickly. We learned painful lessons the hard way.”

    Divers were training as expected Sunday morning.

    Organizers have insisted there are no health risks posed by the discolored water seen in the pool during an earlier water polo competition and in a different diving pool. Still, visibility underwater is a major issue in synchronized swimming, where competitors spend lots of time underwater and need to be able to see their teammates.

    WATCH: Canada’s synchronized swim team look to grab medal in Rio

    The synchronized swimming women’s duets event was completed on schedule. Canada’s Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau sit seventh after the free routine portion of the competition on Sunday at the Rio Olympics.

    The technical routine will take place on Monday morning, with the final on Tuesday.

    *Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jocelyn Simoneau was part of Canada’s synchronized swimming duet team. We regret the error. 

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