It was a tough first practice for the Bahamas Aquatic Federation’s (BAF) 2019 CARIFTA swim team on Saturday, as Head Coach Travano McPhee conducted a number of drills in both the morning and afternoon sessions at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Center.
In the morning, the team went through tough swimming drills and in the afternoon, they had recovery drills.
McPhee said the double session practice was held to get the team used to swimming in both the morning and evening sessions like what happens at CARIFTA. The 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships is set for April 20-24 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
“We are just trying to get the swimmers comfortable and accustomed to doing heats in the morning, taking a break in the afternoon, and coming back for finals in the evenings. We are getting their bodies used to the routine. We also want to foster a smooth transition from club practice to national team practices,” McPhee said.
He said that he also wanted to get the young athletes in a team environment, and get them comfortable with working and being around each other.
Three-time CARIFTA team member Luke-Kennedy Thompson said he was appreciative and honored to be named as one of the team’s captains this time around.
“Practice was good. Everyone looked good and we trained hard. Our technique is looking good and I am pretty confident going into CARIFTA,” Thompson said. “It was a very tough practice. It challenged me but I knew if I put my mind to it that I would overcome it. I was not expecting it to be this tough for the first day but I am happy, and it prepares us for competition,” he added.
Thompson hopes to lead by example heading into Barbados.
He will be competing in the 15-17 boys category, competing in events such as 200 meters (m), 400 and 1500m free, the 100 and 200m breast, and the 200 and 400m individual medley (IM).
Anya MacPhail, one of the other captains of the team, said she is looking forward to the leadership role she has on the team.
She said that the morning session on Saturday was difficult and it was just recovery in the afternoon.
MacPhail is set to swim in the 100, 200, 400 and 800m freestyle events, the 100 and 200m butterfly events, the 200m backstroke, the 200 and 400m IM, and the five-kilometer (5K) open water swim event.
There were two first-time CARIFTA swimmers at the practice sessions – Rhanishka Gibbs and Giann Sands, both in the 11-12 girls division.
Gibbs said she was excited and nervous when she found out she made the team. Her specialty is the breaststroke events. She said practice was rough in the morning session but it was better in the afternoon.
“It was pretty rough this morning but when I came back this afternoon, it was a little bit better and I felt stronger,” she said. She hopes to win a medal or at least make it to the finals of her events.
Sands said she felt great when she found out that she made the team. Her main events are the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and 200 and 400m IM.
One a scale of 1-10, Sands said the intensity of the practice was a nine. She hopes to bring home some medals and be number one in her age group.
Coach McPhee said that the intensity will stay high for the next two to three weeks, and 7-10 days before they leave, he will tone it down a bit.
McPhee said that there may not be a full team practice until the team gets in Barbados – there were about 30 swimmers present on Saturday, inclusive of open water swimmers.
The open water segment will wrap up the 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships on April 24. That event will get underway at 9 a.m. on April 24.