It is a young up-and-coming program, but the Bahamas 2019 CARIFTA open water swimming team will be looking to turn in great performances when its members head to the water in Bridgetown, Barbados on Wednesday, April 24.
The swimmers will swim for five kilometers.
Representing The Bahamas will be 12 swimmers – three each in the boys and girls 14-15 category and three each in the boys and girls 15-17 category.
Making the boys team in the 13-14 category are Taye Fountain, Sean Longley and Ocean Smith. Ricardo Jolly, Joshua Murray and Mark-Anthony Thompson will be swimming in the boys 15-17 age group.
For the girls, Dedrie Higgs, Salene Gibson and Mia Sastre will swim in the girls 14-15 category. The girls 15-17 category will be represented by Kaliyah Albury, Gigi Eneas and Anya MacPhail.
Coaching the team is Andy Lovett out of Grand Bahama.
Lovett said that open water is still very young in The Bahamas.
“Open water is still very much growing in the Bahamas Aquatic Federation. We started competing four or five years ago. We are slowly getting into it and the qualifying times are getting harder. It is based on the 12th place finish from the previous year. We are hoping to get most of the swimmers in the top ten and hope for some to get in the top six,” Lovett said.
He added that the BAF is putting programs in place to catch up to countries like Guadeloupe, which he feels The Bahamas has a good chance of catching up to one day.
The team is a mixture of new and old faces hitting the water. Some of the old faces are Albury, Eneas, MacPhail, Albury and Gibson. Some of the new faces to the team are Sastre and Higgs.
Higgs said she was excited when she found out she made the team and she wants to beat her personal best.
“I want to beat my time of 1:14.00. I also want to medal in the open water. I am not nervous about the meet and the practices have been difficult,” Higgs said.
Also excited to make the team was Fountain. He will be a hybrid swimmer doing both open water swimming and pool. He will be swimming in the long distance races in the pool.
“I hope to medal in open water and the pool. I also want to lower my time in the open water from 1:07.00 to 1:05.00. The practice has been intense for me because I am swimming in the long distances,” Fountain said.
Like Fountain, Smith will be swimming in the long distance races in the pool. He hopes to lower his personal best time of 1:05.00.
It will be tough for Team Bahamas in the open water, Lovett said, since most of the team will be in the pool swimming for four days from that Saturday to Tuesday.
He hopes to have more open water races in The Bahamas in the future. For the next two weeks, he hopes to put in a lot of work as he readies the team for action.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism