Murky waters: Green, not gold, colour of the day at Olympic Games diving pool

The water turned a murky green, althought Rio de Janeiro organisers insisted there was no risk to athletes despite the appearance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2016, 8:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2016, 2:42pm

Green, not gold, was the colour of the day at the Olympic Games diving venue in Rio de Janeiro.

Sure, China won their third consecutive gold medal on Tuesday, but the buzz was about the colour of the water in the diving pool – a murky green.

That was in stark contrast to the pool’s light blue colour on the previous day and also that of the clear water in the second pool used for the water polo competition at Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre.

British diver Tom Daley, who earned bronze in men’s synchronised 10 metre on Monday, tweeted a photo of the two pools next to each other and captioned it, “Ermmm...what happened?!”

Water quality has been a major issue surrounding the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but in the ocean and lagoons, not the pools.

A statement from Olympic organisers said water tests were conducted and there was no risk to athletes. They couldn’t explain the colour change, but said it’s being investigated.

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“We don’t know exactly what happened,” organising committee spokesman Mario Andrada said. “And we don’t know yet why the pool changed colours.

“If it were green and yellow, we would know it was a patriotic thing,” Andrada joked, referring to Brazil’s national colours.

“We did test the water using the same parameters we do every day, and the results were exactly the same as we got when the pool was blue.”

Canada team leader Mitch Geller suspected the cause was algae that multiplied quickly in the day’s warm and sunny conditions.

“Everybody was scratching their heads going, ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “I think that the filter is busted, but I’m not sure.

“It’s not really dangerous. It’s not like it’s toxic or dirty or any of that. It seemed to get worse over the course of the competition.”

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The water wasn’t just a cosmetic nuisance; it was so dark that divers couldn’t see the bottom of the pool.

“They’re used to seeing the water,” Geller said. “The visuals are really, really important in diving.”

China’s Chen Ruolin, who teamed to win gold with Liu Huixia, said it didn’t affect them.

Paola Espinosa of Mexico, competing in her fourth Olympics, noticed the pool getting increasingly darker throughout the six round competition. But she said the water didn’t smell or affect her skin.

“I haven’t seen anything like it before,” Espinosa said. “But it’s Brazil and everything is green down here, so maybe it was a decoration to make it look pretty.”

American Jessica Parratto wears contacts and said the water didn’t burn her eyes.

Bronze medallists Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion of Canada tried not to laugh as they gazed at the water from the top of the 33 foot tower. They liked that the dark green colour offered a helpful contrast with the blue sky.

“The only thing we said is don’t open your mouth in the water, just in case,” Benfeito said.

Geller said a Canadian pool expert was arriving on Wednesday and he would offer to help Rio organisers chemically treat the water if there’s a problem with the filter.

“I don’t know what it’s going to look like tomorrow,” he said. “I hope it’s not a swamp.”