RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Goodbye green. It was back to clear water in the pool at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center, allowing synchronized swimmers to see underwater on the first day of competition Sunday.
Officials completed pumping nearly 1 million gallons of clean water into the pool used for the event with little time to spare before preliminaries for the free routine began. They had raced to drain green-tinged water out of the pool overnight at a venue that has embarrassed Rio organizers. The massive undertaking was necessary to ensure clear water for judges and competitors, who spend much of their time underwater.
"At last, this is real water," Russia's Natalia Ishchenko said through a translator. "The visibility is good, not ideal, but … at least the water is a normal temperature." The water problems had limited the swimmers to one practice session in the pool, for which the water was unusually cold.
Before the water polo competition moved from the center to the Olympic Aquatic Stadium as previously planned, athletes had complained their eyes were burning from chlorine.
Later Sunday, the venue's diving pool hosted the women's 3-meter springboard final. The green water in that pool wasn't changed. It turned a dark green shade Tuesday, and the larger pool at Maria Lenk began to turn the same color the following day. The changing color was the result of increased alkaline levels, officials said.
Where to go? The International Olympic Committee said the Games are missing part of the so-called "look" that characterizes them. Rio organizers said days before the Games opened that only 15 percent of the signage had been installed at venues. Signs give the Olympics their branding and help fans get around. Organizers have made deep budget cuts hitting food service, transportation and volunteers. The cuts were supposed to affect only behind-the-scenes aspects but have crept into other areas.