To be or not to be… Dolphin lives or Dolphin dies…

Anastasiia Shevtsova & Aliya Rysimbetova. December 2015. Final project

It was November of 1957 when the first winter indoor swimming pool in Central Asia, a 25 meters long bath with five tracks and 20 meters long small pool was put into the operation. Opening of the “Dolphin” caused the development of the swimming sports in the country. Sportsmen of Kyrgyz Socialistic Soviet Republic got an opportunity to train throughout the year, there they were ahead of their rivals from other Central Asian countries who did not have such possibilities at the time. It was November of 197 the Republican swimming pool of Tajikistan came into operation with heated water. Just before 60’s winter swimming pool in Karaganda came into operation and in 1962 a winter swimming pool of the Palace of Pioneers came into operation in Alma-Aty, Kazakhstan. Pool named for Mitrofanov is the oldest pool in Tashkent, which exists in Uzbekistan since 1964.

Aliya Rysimbetova’s cover on Boombox ft. Jamala song – Zliva

IMG_0436Backside of swimming pool “Dolphin”, November 2015

Today swimming pool “Dolphin” is no longer the same as it used to be – partially damaged baths with cracked outside lining of both adult and children’s pools, piles of garbage from unfinished reconstruction works, half covered roof on the second floor with huge cracks allowing the sun rays and cold winter air to penetrate inside of the building, partially broken windows and pieces of clay, cement and glass on the floor.   that it probably will never function again as it was from 1957 till 2010. The reconstruction of the roof’s iron beams has started in August of 2011, but today pool looks even worse than it was just in year of 2010, when there was cheerful atmosphere during youth championship.

3f36da110f3458e0b618c54b28815a91 667da6c22d83e8f90d01b3ca9f579218Children’s swimming competitions, “Cheerful starts 2010”  © Sport Akipress

In order to replace corroding beams the roof was demolished. As a result of poor time management of the repairs works from 2012 to 2014 the pool was under the pressure of all natural phenomena such as wind, snow and rain, without the roof. Consequently it lead to irreparable harm of the whole second floor and even the ceiling of the first. The reconstruction company left roof unfinished due to lack of further financial support from the City Council of Bishkek.

Despite all aforesaid obstacles in 2012 the “Dolphin” possessing the status of historical, cultural and architectural monument has celebrated its 50th anniversary and keeps youngsters interested in sports.The school of pentathlon which includes five kind of sports (fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, and pistol shooting) is surviving in that corroded building in dreadful conditions. Department of sports conducts training session on basis of equestrian school and swimming pool “Dolphin”. Young people who used to attend the sports school are now forced to train in different places of Bishkek but it doesn’t stop them from winning the first places in local and regional sport tournaments.

People involved in the case:

Isa Omurkulov, mayor of Bishkek from 2011 to 2013, initiated the renovation work in 2011 but he resigned (on Dec.4, 2013 due to a criminal case on suspicion of illegal approval of the boundaries of the Victory Park) without solving the problem.

Kochogul Ibraimov, vice deputy of the Capital Construction Office of the town council of Bishkek, the one who under decree of Isa Omurkulov has started to fix the roof but eventually reported that the given budget was not enough (first 16 million soms). This sum of money was spent on the first out of three levels of planned reconstruction works. In fact the roof was incomplete due to the lack of further financial support. The Capital Construction Office also reported that nothing terrible has happened. On the contrary, they have saved the capital [Bishkek] from imminent tragedy – the fall of the pool’s roof that was, supposedly, about to collapse.

“The restoration is not completed due to the fact that there was no financing in the city budget. I do not know who should personally be liable for that. We once asked for money, but there were no funds. The building would have collapsed anyway, since it needed major repairs”, – reported on the situation Kochogul Ibraimov, vice deputy of Capital Construction.

In contrast, above Ibraimov’s quote may lead you to delusion. The law states the following:

According to the recent   amendment of the law of KR from 24th of May, 2013 #77, town planning legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic states that an organization in charge of controlling architectural and construction works has to:

1) control of the quality of the construction process;
2) monitoring compliance with established rules, regulations, programs, schemes, plans and projects in the field of architectural and construction process;
3) control over the security of subjects of building activity requirements for public safety, territories and settlements from hazardous (harmful) of natural and man-made phenomena and processes;
4) making conformity assessment on completion and coming into operation of the construction projects.

unnamedZabida Yrsalieva, head teacher of the sport school, who has been working there since 2010, told that the current situation with the pool is still unsatisfactory [half covered roof; weakness of secondfloor endurance, dreadful damage of walls]. They [workers, coaches] have made many efforts in order to prevent the bath of the pool from destruction by cold during winter period and other natural disasters [sun/wind/rain exposure].

In the recent interview Zabida Dujshembievna, coach and additionally an office manager, told us that the government gave money to start the reconstruction but since it was not enough to finish all the work the process has stopped without being complete.

Igor Ayrapetov (the director of the pool) rected in a timely manner to the warning of the city council about an incident happened in Moscow ( with the fallen roof in the pool due to heavy snowfall and mistakes in construction). He reported about the problem with the roof supporting iron beams and told to Isa Omurkulov that the building is in an emergency condition. The reaction from the City Council was followed. The money [16 million] was given however results are still unreachable and the problem with finishing reconstruction does exist today.

Timeline of three levels of planned reconstruction works and its estimated price (in soms) by Kochogul Ibraimov, vice deputy of the Capital Construction Office:chart 3.2

  • 2011: initial estimated price of fixing roof by the Capital Construction Office is 5 million
  • August 2011: repair started, for next some month the roof wasdeconstructed but that estimated amount was not enough to cover roof entirely
  • 2012: the first part of reconstruction works – 16 million soms instead of 5 million was spen
    t by the Capital Construction Office of the city
  • 2012 : the second part (walls, basement): 30
    million were needed – No information about money expenses, money were not given
  • [date unknown]: the third part (inside works): more than 27 million soms needed – ? No information about money expenses, money were not given

Igor Ayrapetov, the head of the sport complex “Dolphin”, who has worked at his position for more than decades, sees two other options of saving the pool.

“Dolphin should operate and bring profit. First of all, we need to restore the main hall with a large swimming bath. Thus, we will be able to earn on our own repairs. Little by little, year after year, we will restore a small swimming pool and all other facilities,”– says Igor Karlovich.

“The second option is to transform the winter pool into a summer pool. We may remove the walls and roof, which officials have not been able to bring into proper conditions, and also re-equip some of the rooms. On the savings from this we may be able to restore the shower rooms, changing rooms, both male and female branches, and also replace plumbing”. Airapetov says that with the right water heating “Dolphin” will be also accessible in the winter period.

Kubanychbek Kulmatov, current Mayor of Bishkek, wants to build a new private sport complex instead of reconstructing the corroding building of “Dolphin”.

His decision goes against the law about safety of historical and cultural heritage mentioned above in the article.

According to the law of the Kyrgyz Republic on the preservation and exploitation of the historical and cultural heritage issued by the legislative assembly of Zhogorku Kenesh from the 29th of June, 1999.

Article 31 states that legal and physical representatives are obliged to ensure the preservation of historical and cultural heritage located on the land given them in use. Historical and archaeological sites are not subject to a possible privatization.
Article 34 states that restoration, conservation, regeneration and repair works of objects of historical and cultural heritage are carried out only with the permission of the state body liable for the protection of monuments.Restoration,conservation, regeneration and repair works of objects of historical and cultural heritage are carried out by sources of financing, as defined in Article 20 of this Law, as well as by users or owners of the monuments.

On a phone line with on July 16, 2014 Kubanychbek told that the rebuilding of the “Dolphin” is an expensive investment (more than 50 million soms) for the city budget and it is going to be easier to build the new sport complex instead of fixing the old “Dolphin”.

IMG_7384Big swimming pool “Dolphin”, November 2015


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