Grand Bahama will once again play a major role on The Bahamas’ junior national swim team set to defend their CARIFTA Swim crown next month.
The Bahamas Aquatics Federation ratified a 36-member team after the recently held 2019 Alpha Aquatics International Invitational. The swim meet took place this past March 8-9 in Nassau, New Providence. It also served as a “last chance” meet for swimmers to qualify for the CARIFTA team.
The 2019 CARIFTA Swim Meet takes place April 20-23 in Barbados.
10 junior swimmers out of Grand Bahama make up those 36 members enlisted for the 2019 CARIFTA Swim team. Nine of those members were selected from the YMCA Wave Runners Swim Club, while one member was named from the Freeport Aquatics Club (FAC).
From the Wave Runners Club, Seannia Norville-Smith (11-12), Mia Patton (11-12) and Katelyn Cabral (15-17) were named to the girls’ portion of the team. Joining those three young ladies on the team are Rhanishka Gibbs (11-12), Leylah Knowles (11-12), Giann Sands (11-12), Devin Cuffy-Bethel (13-14), Grace Farrington (13-14), Salene Gibson (13-14), Rachel Lundy (13-14), Delaney Mizell (13-14), Keianna Moss (13-14), Zayle-Elizabeth Thompson (13-14), Jamilah Hepburn (15-17), Anya MacPhail (15-17), Katherine Slatter (15-17) and Virginia Stamp (15-17).
As for the boys, also selected from the Wave Runners Club were Asher Johnson (11-12), Marvin Johnson Jr. (11-12), Ethan Pinder (11-12), Nigel Forbes (13-14), Taye Fountain (13-14) and Ocean Smith (13-14). Representing the FAC will be Lamar Ferguson, who was one of the leading medal winners for the team at last year’s games along with Forbes.
The remaining list of boys selected to the national team include: Amauri Bonamy (11-12), Tristin Ferguson (11-12), Jared Reckley (13-14), Ishan Roy (13-14), Erald Thompson III (13-14), DaVante Carey (15-17), Kevon Lockhart (15-17), Peter Morley (15-17), Ian Pinder (15-17), Luke-Kennedy Thompson (15-17), Mark-Anthony Thompson (15-17) and Izaak Bastian (15-17).
Pleased with the Wave Runners’ performance, which included Johnson Jr. breaking the boys’ 11-12 400 meter freestyle national record, Wave Runners head coach and assistant CARIFTA Swim coach Andy Loveitt said he was pleased that nine of his swimmers made the national team.
“They got there from working as a team,” Loveitt said this past Tuesday at the Y, “It’s going to be a team performance with YMCA Wave Runners representing The Bahamas at CARIFTA in Barbados.”
Loveitt disclosed that the club first came together in August and trained rigorously in the winter time. The Club competed in meets in Nassau and Florida in preparation for the recently held competition.
“At trials this past weekend we took 22 swimmers. Of that number it looked like maybe five or six had a very good chance of making the team and three or four of them were on the bubble of making the team. It just so happened that they all stepped up, dropped massive amounts of time when it was needed.
“I’m really pleased. It’s beyond what I was expecting.”
This year’s CARIFTA meet marks the fifth year Cabral has been selected to the team. With her experience she was tapped as one of the team’s captains headed to Barbados. Based on what she saw from the other members of the team, Cabral sounded confident that The Bahamas can once again come away victorious.
“I expect to see a lot of fast races from a lot of people. We have a really good team this year. We have some really fast swimmers like Izaak Bastian, Zayle-Elizabeth Thompson is back for her second year in the 13-14 age group and she medaled last year. So there’s a good chance for her to do that again.
“Since I was 11 and looking up to the other team captains we had I dreamed of being a team captain. I’m only 15 and to be a team captain this year is just amazing.”
Fresh off of setting the new national record of four minutes and 33.48 (4:33.48) Johnson Jr. is more confident than ever headed into his second stint as a CARIFTA athlete.
“This year I’m going in with a mindset to win and nothing else. Last year I did what I wanted to do but this year I want to build on that. Hopefully I can come away with records or personal bests in the 50m freestyle, the 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, also the 50m backstroke and 100m backstroke, the 50m fly and 100m fly.”
Ocean Smith and Seannia Norville-Smith are first time CARIFTA team members and both expressed their excitement about next month’s competition.
“I feel good about it,” Ocean admitted, “I’m looking forward to the experience. At trials I was nervous but I felt I was ready and could meet the time standards.”
Norville-Smith chimed, “I feel this is an awesome opportunity. I’m just really happy I made the team and I know my journey has just begun. When I found I made the team I was extremely happy, my parents were happy. It was just a great time for everyone,” she concluded.
The BAF is expected to name their Open Water team for the CARIFTA Games this coming weekend.
The CARIFTA open water hopefuls will have one last chance to qualify, as the final qualifying event will be hosted by Mako Aquatics Club on Saturday March 16 at Prince George Wharf, starting at 8:30 a.m.
At last year’s competition The Bahamas finished the meet with 56 medals — 23 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze.Trinidad and Tobago finished in second place with 45 medals. This year’s host nation, Barbados, will look to improve on its third-place finish and 30-medal haul from a year ago.
In points, The Bahamas finished first with 789 points, Guadeloupe finished second with 608 points and Jamaica was third with 607.50 points. Team Bahamas is looking to win its third straight CARIFTA swimming title.