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Bahamians making waves in swimming

Despite having limited or no access at all to the Betty Kelly Kenning National Aquatics Centre, local swimmers have still been dominant on all levels this year, according to Bahamas Swimming Federation(BSF)President Algernon Cargill.

The most recent and more notable accomplishment, is the bronze medal won by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace at the 7th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships, which were held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Vanderpool-Wallace captured a bronze medal in the 50 meters(m)freestyle event and set a new national record in the process. The bronze medal time was 24.04 seconds and is a personal best record for the collegiate swimmer. Vanderpool-Wallace, Alana Dillette and Elvis Vereance Burrows swam in the meet. The last time The Bahamas competed in the championships was in 1997 with Jeremy Knowles leading the team at 3rd FINA Short Course World Championships, in Gothenburg, Sweden. Vanderpool-Wallace and Alana Dillete have qualified for the 2011 World Championships as well as the 2012 Olympic Games. Cargill believes that Burrows is an outstanding male swimmer. His accomplishments at various meets, said Cargill, has earned him that distinction.

Cargill said: ”The highlight of year is definitely Arianna at the World Championships and the CAC Games where she was able to dominate the region in her events. Without a doubt, we feel as if that is the highlight of swimming, in fact, the highlight for the decade in swimming. We continue to have a number of swimmers qualify for major international meets and this means that the success of the program is evident, particularly in our seniors.

“At the CAC Games we had some outstanding performances so this tells us that the program itself is working. We have more and more swimmers qualifying for major championships such as Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and other big events, so this tells us why it is so important for us to have a strong junior program.”

The swimming president believes that the junior swimmers will struggle again in 2011, since the access to the pool has been limited this year. Unlike most of the senior swimmers who train abroad, the junior national swimmers were moving from pool to pool, none of which is the standard Olympic size. The disruption in training started in February when the pool was closed to swimmers, due to a flooding in the basement of the facility. That problem was later corrected, but the heaters malfunctioned. The cold water has kept swimmers out of the pool, once again.

“We are not in the pool,”said Cargill.”Right now the heater is not working. The pool is cold. They are still repairing the pool so it is not functional as yet. Since it is not fully functional, it will hurt the swimming progress next year. They haven’t trained the whole year.

“The junior program is hurting. It hurt this year because the pool has been inoperable for most of the year and they(the juniors)were not able to practice. We are not predicting a very strong CARIFTA Games, because the swimmers really didn’t have the resource of the pool this year. That probably set us back, not having the pool, but nonetheless, we have a group of dedicated coaches and swimmers and we believe that the program will continue to remain strong. The growth rate has been somewhat stagnated because we didn’t have the pool for most of the year so the swimmers really didn’t have any place to train.

“We haven’t been able to hold the number of meets like we used to,”said Cargill.”They haven’t been able to train as much as they wanted to. With the weather and all the other factors, we are having some challenges, but next year we definitely want to go to CARIFTA and preform well. We also have the World Championships in Shanghai, China. That is very important to the federation, representing at a high level, and of course the Pan Am Games. These three championships will tell us how much we are on track for a medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, but the biggest challenge we have is the pool. We need the pool to remain functional because when it is not, it is really affecting the overall success of the program.”

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