The Bahamas’ 42-member CARIFTA swim team held its final practice on home soil yesterday morning at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Complex, and is ready for the 34th CARIFTA Swimming Championships which begins on Saturday at the Barbados Aquatics Center, in Wildey, Barbados.
The five-day meet concludes with the open water event on Wednesday morning.
The team is set to leave for Barbados today. The Bahamas has won four of the last five CARIFTA championships and are the back-to-back defending champions.
Travano McPhee, head coach of the team, said that they have been working out every day.
“The team is looking better each week. Each week they got sharper on starts, turns and finishes. The team chemistry is really coming together. It is good to see team captains taking initiatives on the team cheers and really getting that Team Bahamas chemistry going,” said McPhee.
Some of the team members are in Grand Bahama, working out under the watchful eyes of coach Andy Lovett. McPhee said he has been in steady communication with Lovett and was told that the athletes in Grand Bahama are looking sharp and their chemistry is good.
The first full team practice is set for this evening in Barbados, and they will hit the pool again tomorrow morning. Competition begins on Saturday.
McPhee said that all of the age groups look ready for competition, but singled out the 15-17 boys and girls who have been guiding the younger team members.
One of those senior team members is Ian Pinder. He will be participating in the 100 meters (m) and 200m butterfly races, and hopes to bring home gold. He said he feels healthy heading into Barbados.
One of the strengths of Team Bahamas in recent times has been in the sprints, and McPhee said the team is looking good in that area again, and added that he expects them to do well in the distance races as well.
“We are looking good in the sprints – we have always had the sprints as our strength,” he said. “This year in the distance we are looking stronger. The sprinters have been doing good and we have had some excellent practices. The speed looks good, and the starts and turns. We have a lot of strength in the distance events where we will look to try to grab a few more points than we normally have in the past.”
Delaney Mizell is swimming in the 13-14 age group and this is her second year on the team.
“Practice has been great over the past few weeks. I feel strong, ready and prepared to swim fast and bring home some points. I got used to practice after a while. Coming off CARIFTA trials, we tapered down and started training, getting more distance in and now we are tapering down getting ready for the meet,” she said.
Mizell will be participating in the 50m and 100m freestyle events, along with the 200m Individual Medley (IM). She is looking forward to competing and bringing home points and medals for the team.
In terms of relays, no relay teams have been picked as yet. Those teams will be picked in Barbados. The coaches have an idea as to who will be on the team but it comes down to who is swimming well in Barbados.
Kayliah Albury, a second-year team member, is swimming in the 15-17 age category. She will be swimming in the 50, 200, 400 and 800m, freestyle events, and is also scheduled to compete in the 5K (five-kilometer) open water event. She said she feels good physically and the training sessions has prepared her and the team to succeed.
“Physically I feel ready to succeed in all my races and drop my times and perform to the best of my ability. I’m looking to get medals in all my races. Practices have been good and hard. We have been working on our techniques and everything that we need. Coach has been training us really good to go over there, succeed and bring back medals,” Albury said.
Jared Reckley will be swimming in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly, and 50m and 200m backstroke events. He is in the 13-14 age group and said he feels prepared for the competition and is ready to compete, secure points and bring home medals for The Bahamas.
Coach McPhee said physically the team looks good and there are no injuries heading into Barbados. He knows a lot of the teams will try to knock off Team Bahamas, not allowing the country to win three straight titles, but he knows that they have put in a lot of work and that the team is ready.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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