After The Bahamas’ 36-member CARIFTA swim team won their third straight title and fifth in the past six years, the 12-member 5K (five-kilometer) open water squad was in action on Wednesday morning to wrap up the 34th CARIFTA Swimming Championships at Carlisle Bay, Barbados.
The Bahamas had 11 of its 12 swimmers finishing the race after swimming on a tough course that featured very rough waves. The course was a 1K (one-kilometer) course and swimmers had to complete five laps around the course to end the race.
There were no overall standings.
The first Bahamian swimmer to finish the race was Mark-Anthony Thompson in the 16-18 boys age category. He closely missed out on finishing third, finishing in a time of 1:05:56.
Winning that age category was the Cayman Islands’ Jake Bailey with a time of 1:03:46. Thomas Charlery of Martinique was second with a time of 1:04:43. Edging out Thompson for third was Barbados’s Eric Lashley in 1:04:56.
Thompson said it felt great being the first Bahamian to cross the finish line.
“It felt great because we are not known for doing too well in the open water event. I just wanted to swim it for the country and try to do my best,” Thompson said. “Surprisingly, the waves were a lot bigger than I expected. That was a challenge for me so I had to work my strokes where I can try swim as smoothly as possible. I try to build up at each lap and tried to avoid contact with any other swimmer. After the first buoy, it was very rough so I had to try swim a little harder and try work with the waves so that you can try swim as smoothly as possible.”
Thompson said he prefers to swim the waters in Nassau than at Carlisle Bay because the waves here in Nassau are not as big as the ones at Carlisle Bay.
Joshua Murray out of Grand Bahama was the second Bahamian swimmer to cross the finish line. He placed sixth as he posted a time of 1:05:25 in the 16-18 boys age group. He said he jumped out with the lead pack in the first lap.
“In the first lap, I was with the pack. I kept up with the pack for the second and third lap. In the fourth lap, the other swimmers bumped me and that threw me off. At that point they were too far ahead for me to catch up. I tried to catch up in the fifth lap as much as I could,” Murray said.
He sees himself doing more open water races in the future.
Finishing 10th in that age category was Ricardo Jolly. His time was 1:08:10.
It was a close finish in the 15-17 girls between Kaliyah Albury and Anya MacPhail. MacPhail placed eighth overall, swimming 1:12:01. Albury finished 10th as she recorded a time of 1:12:03. Giovanna Eneas was 13th overall as she finished the race in 1:15:06.
Like Thompson, MacPhail said the course was rough and the waves were big.
“The course was pretty rough. The waves were bigger than I expected. It was a different course than I was used to but I still managed to finish,” MacPhail said. “After swimming nine races, your body is exhausted. For me to be able to finish made me proud of myself because I am exhausted, but it is finally over.”
Last year she swam in the open water race in Jamaica. She went on to say that she was not tired last year because she did not have to swim as many races that she did this year. Albury also swam in the pool aspect of the meet but said she was mentally prepared for both.
“It is all mental preparation for this race. When you swim every day, you cannot go and compete and say my body tired and I cannot do this. I just had to stay positive the entire time,” Albury said.
For her, the open water course in Jamaica last year was much calmer but had more participants. Having less participants this year was better for her because she was able to swim without hitting anyone, she said.
Coming out on top in that age category were Curacao’s Samantha Van Vuure and Elana A. Sinclair with a time of 1:07:10. Third went to Trinidad and Tobago’s Jada Chatoor in 1:07:16.
In the 14-15 girls age category, Mia Sastre was the first Bahamian to finish the race. She finished in 1:13:00. Salene Gibson was behind her, finishing in a time of 1:14:20. Dedrie Higgs did not finish the race.
Avery Lambert of the Cayman Islands picked up the gold medal in that age category in a time of 1:07:11. It was Trinidad and Tobago’s Zoe Anthony who was second as she posted a time of 1:07.18. Raya Embury-Brown, of the Cayman Islands, swam away with the bronze medal in 1:07:24.
In the 14-15 boys, Taye Fountain finished fourth. His time was 1:08:10. Sean Longley was seventh in 1:08:27. Ocean Smith finished behind Longley for eighth as he posted a time of 1:08:41.
The host nation won the gold medal in that division with Diego Dulieu finishing in 1:04:45. The Cayman Islands’ Stefano Bonati came close behind in second in 1:04:47. Martinique’s Kervann Samos won the bronze medal in a time of 1:05:01.
This is not the strongest event for The Bahamas but the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) wants to get better in it from year to year. This year was another stepping stone for the country with Thompson slightly missing out on a podium finish.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism