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Bahamas medical team played a big part during CARIFTA

They are not seen in the stands or in the pool.

But if you looked behind the team bleachers, they were hard at work ensuring that the athletes were physically prepared for their races during the four-day CARIFTA Swimming Championships at the Barbados Aquatics Center in Wildey, Barbados.

They were the medical team for team Bahamas.

The team was comprised of William Seymour, team physician; Cordero Bonamy, head physiotherapist; and Jenna Gibson and Pharez Cooper, physiotherapists.

Seymour has been the team’s doctor since 2016. The cool and calm doctor said his job does not start when the team lands in Barbados but rather it’s in three phases – pre-competition, in-competition and after-competition.

“There are three stages – prior to competition, during competition and after competition,” Seymour said.

“Prior to competition phase consists of following the swimmer to see which pre-existing medical condition they have [and any] allergies.

“[It’s to] see if they are taking any medication and if they are taking any I will see if they are approved by the anti-doping agency.

“It also entails making sure they are in good health and strength. During competition, I ensure that they maintain their competition readiness. It also includes making sure they are doing what they need to do to be at optimum performance. After competition, it is where we get into that recovery phase where I write medical reports. I give full reports to the swimmers so they can take it back to their primary care physicians where they continue treatments to any injuries.”

Bonamy said as a physiotherapist his job was to oversee all the stretches and recovery of the athletes.

“We the physiotherapists oversee all the stretches and the recovery work of the athletes to ensure they are ready and fine-tuned to go,” Bonamy said.

“Whenever they finish their race and have lactic acid, we try to get that out with some stretching.”

He continued, “The experience had been good because these athletes came here knowing what to do. I can only contribute that to the coaches, the family and the supporting staff. We have not seen any serious injuries thus far. There has only been some tight muscles here and there. We [are] just instructing them and telling them what to do and they follow suit.”

This is his first year with the junior swimming team, but he is no stranger to the swimming fraternity. He worked with the senior swimming team last summer at the Central America and Caribbean Games. He has worked on senior swimmers such as Joanna Evans and the Higgs sisters – Lilly and Margaret.

Seymour said this has been the healthiest team he’s ever seen. He said on previous teams, swimmers came with pre-existing conditions. He credits the parents, coaches and the federation.

“I guess that as the years go by the parents, coaches and the Bahamas Aquatics Federation have learned to work with the swimmers and gear them up towards competition time,” he said.

“The team is healthy and that lightened the load. They are doing proper stretches, warm up and warm down. They are making great use of the physios so the team has been performing very well.”

Like Bonamy, this is Gibson’s first year with the team. She said that it was rewarding and that it was not a difficult job as the swimmers came well-prepared.

“It has a been a rewarding experience,” Gibson said.

“I had a good time learning more about the swimmers. The swimmers did not give me a hard time. Everyone came well prepared.”

Some athletes swam three races in one night and six races in one day. The physiotherapists played a huge role in ensuring that those athletes were ready to hit the pool again.

Pharez Cooper is another physiotherapist on the team. His first time with the team was in Jamaica last year and he is familiar with some of the swimmers.

“Our goal is to ensure that athletes are ready for their event,” Cooper said.

“With CARIFTA technically being a five-day event, with some participating each day, we had to keep the athletes rejuvenated and ready to go. As the meet goes on, the body tends to wear down and we have to help sustain the energy levels of the body. We do a lot of therapeutic drills to keep them on their balance.”

Gibson added, “It was really good to see the team winning a lot of medals. I am very proud of this team. They did an awesome job and everyone did what they are supposed to do and it ran really smooth.”

For Cooper, he has enjoyed his time with the team.

“The team has been good,” Cooper said.

“The CARIFTA swimming team is usually a great team. It is managed well and the athletes perform at the highest standards. A lot of them do multiple events so they keep you active and busy but for the most part I enjoyed my time.”

The Bahamas finished first in the points standings, winning comfortably with 889.50 overall points. Jamaica was 141.50 points behind The Bahamas with 748 points, to finish second. Trinidad and Tobago finished third with 676 points.

The team won a whopping 73 medals after the four-day meet, dominating its Caribbean counterparts in grand style. The Bahamas grabbed 35 gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze medals.

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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