Head Coach of The Bahamas’ 2019 CARIFTA Swim Team Travano McPhee is excited about the prospects of this year’s team, and is hopeful of a third straight victory when the team travels to Bridgetown, Barbados for the junior regional meet. The 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships is set for April 20-24 at the Barbados Aquatic Centre, in Bridgetown.
The team was picked earlier this month, and McPhee said that this team is the strongest one that The Bahamas has put forward at the junior regional meet. The Bahamas has won two straight CARIFTA swimming titles, and four out of the last five.
“The strategy is always putting the best team forward. Anytime you want to travel as a national team, regardless of which club the swimmers are from, coaches come together and they put together the strongest national swim team that The Bahamas can put forward. I think we did a great job again this year,” McPhee said.
According to Algernon Cargill, president of the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF), two swimmers initially named to the team withdrew their names – one cited school commitment and the other did not disclose a reason. He went further to say that the federation respects both of their decisions.
Guardian Sports later found the two swimmers were Virginia Stamp in the 15-17 girls division and Peter Morley in the 15-17 boys division.
Stamp was replaced by Kaliyah Albury while Morley was replaced by Samuel Gibson.
Coach McPhee said that this year’s team features a very strong eight-member senior boys team who he expects to lead the entire team as far as points and leadership are concerned. He believes their experience will play a major role in their success. McPhee, who was also the coach of the 2017 and 2018 CARIFTA teams, spoke highly of the 11-12 and 13-14 boys’ teams as well. He expects them to perform well and to represent the country well.
“Marvin Johnson, in the 11-12 boys, broke the national record in the 400 meters freestyle in his age category at the CARIFTA Trials earlier this month. He is swimming outstanding and we can’t ask for more than that,” said McPhee. “Marvin has like nine or 10 events so we look for him to come back home with nine or 10 medals. He is a powerhouse in that age group along with Tristin Ferguson. It is a very strong boys’ team in the 11-12 category. The 13-14 boys’ team is led by Nigel Forbes, Ishan Roy, Jared Reckley, … it’s a powerhouse of boys and we look for them to represent the country well.”
As for the girls, McPhee said they stand out and the 13-14 category. He said it is one of the strongest units they have had for a while.
“The girls will always represent us strong. The males are deep but the girls also stand out. The 13-14 girls’ division is by far one of the strongest 13-14 divisions that we have had in a very long time,” he said. “Delaney Mizell, Zayle-Elizabeth Thompson, Keianna Moss and Rachel Lundy are going to be powerhouses in that age category.”
The team captains for the boys are Izaak Bastian and Luke-Kennedy Thompson. Over on the girls’ side, Anya MacPhail and Katelyn Cabral are the captains. McPhee said they have excellent leadership skills and the coaches will be looking to them to generate team camaraderie.
McPhee knows that there are countries that will be looking to stop a possible three-peat by The Bahamas.
“When you are at the top you are always trying to get pull down and you can only beat the best. Right now, we are the best. We will be looking to grab five out of six and make it three straight. The other top countries are always coming for us and that fuels the team, especially the senior division – some of them, their last year at the meet. No one wants to walk away a loser so they will step up and hopefully we bring back another victory,” said McPhee.
He knows it is not easy to win three straight but added that the mindset is always to do your best.
“I say this every year. It will not be easy, and we always go there with the mindset that you always have to do your best in order to win. In every victory that we have seen, the kids have stepped up beyond their seed place. If we have kids seeded eighth and they come fifth – that’s a step up. We don’t always look for big-time swimmers, but those who are seeded seventh or eighth in their races to really step up and some even win. We want them to go in there and don’t look at the psych sheet to see where they are ranked, and the times. The girls have done a good job of blocking that out and stepping up, and move up in every final in order for us to secure a win,” McPhee said.
Last year, The Bahamas finished the meet with 56 total medals — 23 gold, 22 silver and 11 bronze. In second place in the medal standings was Trinidad and Tobago with 45 medals. This year’s host nation, Barbados, will look to improve its third-place finish in the medal standings from a year ago. They had a 30-medal haul last year.
In points, The Bahamas finished first with 789 points, Guadeloupe was second with 608 points and Jamaica finished third with 607.50 points.
Training for the team will continue this Saturday. They will be training for four weeks leading into the championships. McPhee plans to go through some rigorous training, and as it gets closer to the championships, he plans to decrease the practice intensity.
Assisting McPhee will be Andy Loveitt and Jeff Slater. The team’s manager is Georgette Albury.
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 Kaliyah Albury (15-17).
The boys 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), Samuel Gibson (15-17), Ian Pinder (15-17), Lamar Taylor (15-17), Luke-Kennedy Thompson (15-17), Mark-Anthony Thompson (15-17) and Izaak Bastian (15-17).
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism