The Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) has ratified a 36-member team for the 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships. The team features the fastest junior swimmers The Bahamas has to offer.
CARIFTA Aquatics 2019 will be held at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Bridgetown, Barbados, and will feature water polo, artistic swimming, swimming and open water competition.
The head coach of Team Bahamas is Travano McPhee, who led the swim team to overall victory in points and medals last year. The Bahamas also won at home in 2017. Assisting McPhee will be Andy Loveitt and Jeff Slater. The team’s manager is Georgette Albury.
The team will be led by multiple CARIFTA record-holder Izaak Bastian. This will be his final CARIFTA swimming championships. He dominated the meet last year and is looking to do it again.
The females on the team are Rhanishka Gibbs (11-12), Leylah Knowles (11-12), Seannia Norville-Smith (11-12), Mia Patton (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), Katelyn Cabral (15-17), Jamilah Hepburn (15-17), Anya MacPhail (15-17), Katherine Slatter (15-17) and Virginia Stamp (15-17).
Representing the males on the team are Amauri Bonamy (11-12), Tristin Ferguson (11-12), Asher Johnson (11-12), Marvin Johnson (11-12), Ethan Pinder (11-12), Nigel Forbes (13-14), Taye Fountain (13-14), Jared Reckley (13-14), Ishan Roy (13-14), Ocean Smith (13-14), Erald Thompson III (13-14), DaVante Carey (15-17), Kevon Lockhart (15-17), Peter Morley (15-17), Ian Pinder (15-17), Lamar Taylor (15-17), Luke-Kennedy Thompson (15-17), Mark-Anthony Thompson (15-17) and Bastian (15-17).
Bastian is a freshman at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He swam on the record-breaking 200 yards medley relay team at the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships for FSU last month.
The team of Emir Muratovic, Bastian, Kanoa Kaleoaloha and Will Pisani set a new school record at 1:23.63 and won the bronze medal in that event to automatically qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA Championships later this month in Austin, Texas.
Zayle-Elizabeth Thompson was a gold medal winner in the 13-14 girls’ 50 meters (m) breaststroke at last year’s CARIFTA. She will be competing in that age category again this year.
Another strong swimmer on the team is Marvin Johnson, the national age group record-holder in the 11-12 boys’ 400m freestyle — a feat he accomplished on Saturday at the 2019 Alpha Aquatics International Invitational at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Complex. He has a lot of the top times in the country in his age group.
The team will miss the services of Lilly Higgs and Victoria Russell. Cabral moves up to the 15-17 age group and Stamp will compete again in that age group.
Forbes moves up from the 11-12 age category, where he won several medals at last year’s CARIFTA in Kingston, Jamaica.
Water polo is set to get underway on Thursday April 11. Swimming will begin on Saturday April 20, and CARIFTA aquatics will end with the open water swimming on Wednesday April 24.
CARIFTA swimming is a qualifier for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, the 18th FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
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 am.
The open water team will be named after that event.
Last year, The Bahamas finished the meet with 56 total medals — 23 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze. In second place was Trinidad and Tobago, with 45 medals. This year’s host nation, Barbados, will look to improve 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.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism