Swimmers upbeat at Pan Am Games, expect quality efforts
LIMA, Peru — The largest team ever of Bahamian swimmers (10), for a senior event, will be representing the country at the 18th Pan American Games, beginning today in Lima, Peru.
Getting into pool action at the Aquatico la Videna over the next few days for The Bahamas, will be Ariel Weech, Margaret Albury Higgs, Lillian Higgs and Laura Morley, making up the women’s team; and DaVante Carey, N’Nhyn Fernander, Jared Fitzgerald, Gershwin Grene, Tyler Russell and Luke Kennedy Thompson taking on their male Continental peers.
Veteran Coach Andy Loveitt along with Coach Jorge Rodriguez will guide the competitive process. Rochelle Bastian is the team manager.
On Saturday the team members got in their first practice session and they appeared quite upbeat and eager to get started with the competition. Coach Loveitt was optimistic, but measured, and he expressed his intent to speak to the swimmers later about their collective mission.
“Yes, this is a large team. At the last Pan Am Games in Toronto, we only had five,” he acknowledged. The depth of the swimming brand in the country is impressive and Loveitt is convinced that more and more the teams will be deeper in talent and in several years, the seniors will begin to reach performances similar to the juniors, who are the best in the Caribbean region at the moment.
“When you look at our results at CARIFTA in five of the last six years, as those swimmers begin to come through, you are going to get greater depth with seniors. Being realistic, there is a transition as you go through and I’m looking at four or five years when we are really going to have the top swimmers going through, because they are following with the process. Arianna (Vanderpool-Wallace) is retired now. This group will now set the scene for the people who are now 12, 13, 14 and 15 coming through. We will have a bit of a talk about expectations and I will emphasize getting their best times,” added Loveitt regarding their results at these Pan Am Games.
As sort of a mentor, like the coaches, is the resilient Weech, 27, and a veteran of a decade as a senior representative in swimming. She is comfortable with her seniority role.
“Now, I’m transitioning. I am with a lot of younger swimmers who were not around when I started. It feels kind of good being able to somewhat pass the baton on. I love the role. The males and females look up to me and I do my best to advise them on swimming and having the proper mindset,” said Weech who is at her fourth Pan Am Games.
Albury Higgs, the 100 and 200 meters (m) breaststroke specialist, typified the excitement of the swimmers.
“I’m proud to be here and I’m excited,” she said. “We’ve got a good group of swimmers. This shows just how much we have grown and I’m happy to be a part of this.”
Albury Higgs will compete in Lima in the 200m breaststroke, the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x100m medley mixed and the 4x100m freestyle mixed; Weech will participate in the 50m freestyle, the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay and the sprint freestyle mixed; Laura Morley is in the 100 and 200m breaststroke events, the 200m Individual Medley (IM), the 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x100m medley mixed and the 4x100m freestyle mixed. Lillian Higgs competes in the 100 and 200m freestyle events, the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x100m medley mixed and the 4×100 freestyle mixed; Carey is in the 100m backstroke, the 4x100m medley relay, the 4x100m medley mixed, and the 4x100m freestyle mixed; Fernander swims in the 100m butterfly, the 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x100m medley relay and the 4x100m medley mixed; Fitzgerald will be in the 100m freestyle, the 4×100 medley, the 4x100m free mixed and the 4x100m medley mixed; Greene will take part in the 50m freestyle, the 4x100m freestyle relay, the 4x100m medley and the 4x100m medley mixed; Russell goes in the 100 and 200m breaststroke events, the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay; Thompson is in the 1500m freestyle, the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley.