DaVante Carey, one of the top Bahamian swimmers, had a rocky path to the beginning of his collegiate career, but that is now behind him and he is set to begin the next phase of his journey this fall at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, USA.
Carey, a recent graduate of Queen’s College, said he is glad the recruitment process is over and he can now focus on the pool and the classroom.
“I would say that my recruitment process was a very stressful one. There was a lot of disappointments along the way due to being accepted to multiple schools but not being able to afford the out-of-pocket funds as my mother is my only financial provider. However, thanks to my mom’s encouragement, we kept pushing and the very last school I reached out to (McKendree University) gave an offer I could not turn down,” Carey said. “I’m glad that the process is over now. I can now focus on setting goals for the upcoming school year for both the classroom and athletics.”
Carey will study Exercise Science. He said he chose that major because of his passion for sports and he wants to be in a position in the future to give back to his country.
The McKendree Bearcats participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, and have been a part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) since 2012.
The head coach of the swimming program is Jimmy Tierney, who has been a swim coach for over 25 years. Tierney is no stranger to Bahamian swimmers, having coached Teisha Lightbourne at Northwestern University from 2007 to 2010.
“We are tremendously excited to have one of The Bahamas’ finest coming to join the Bearcat family,” he said. “I believe DaVante will help us elevate our program to another level in NCAA swimming. He competed at such a high level at various meets around the world this summer, and I am anxious to see how those experiences will make him an even tougher opponent to race against. Our entire team was fired up when the news came out that he was coming to McKendree University.”
The Bearcats finished third at the 2019 GLVC Swimming and Diving Championships.
Carey, a 17-year-old backstroke and butterfly swimmer, had a busy year. In April, he put on a show at the 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Barbados where he helped lead Team Bahamas to a three-peat.
Carey swam at the 2019 REV National Swimming Championships here in Nassau, The Bahamas, in June, where he became the national record holder in the 50 meters (m) back with a time of 26.46 seconds. Carey said that was special, but even that wasn’t the highest point of his season. He said his 100m fly swim where he dropped more than half of a second off his personal best time was the ultimate highlight of his season. The talented young swimmer touched the wall in 55.54 seconds.
Carey returned to Barbados in June and swam at the 32nd Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) Swimming Championships where he won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
He was not finished as yet as he swam at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru earlier this month. He, along with teammates Gershwin Greene, N’Nhyn Fernander and Jared Fitzgerald, inked their names in the Bahamian swimming record books when they recorded a time of 3:28.22 in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the games.
Carey capped off his international competition this summer by swimming at the prestigious 7th FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Junior Swimming Championships that wrapped up on August 25. He said he is very grateful to have had the opportunity to swim for the aquamarine, black and gold this past year.
“To represent The Bahamas at that level for my age is truly phenomenal and I am very appreciative to be given the opportunity by the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) and also the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC),” said Carey.
Travano McPhee is his coach at Mako Aquatics Swim Club, winner of the past two nationals. McPhee also coached Carey at the CARIFTA and the CCCAN meets.
“I am very excited and pleased to see him swim at the collegiate level. I am also anxious to see his college career start off right where he left off, with him continuing to swim fast. He is a team player and has always worked well with his teammates here, encouraging them to put their best foot forward,” McPhee said.
McPhee added that McKendree has gained a passionate, goal-driven swimmer who is dedicated to training hard.
The first meet for the Bearcats is on Saturday, September 14, at St. Louis University in Edwardsville, Illinois. Coach Tierney said he is looking for Carey to make an immediate impact on their program.
“I know he can have an impact on our program right away. He certainly will score well for us in both back and fly events, including the medley relays. I know he can do more than that, so, we will challenge him to earn spots on free relays too,” said Tierney.
Carey is a driven individual who has high goals for his freshman year both in the classroom and in the pool.
“As a freshman, I hope to make the NCAA Championships and be on some of the relay teams, and just take in the experience and come back the following year knowing what to expect,” Carey said. “In the classroom, I hope to maintain my honor roll status and learn as much new things as I can.”
The 2020 CARIFTA Swimming Championships will once again be held in Wildey, Barbados, and is set for April 2020. Carey said he has his eyes set on what will be his final CARIFTA meet.
“I’m really looking forward to Barbados 2020 CARIFTA because I will be in my last year which gives me an even better advantage to win more events and break records. Also, I’m looking forward to Team Bahamas continuing its winning streak,” Carey said.
Carey knows that he did not get there off his own merit. He thanked his mother, Elva Carey, and family members for “always being by my side throughout everything and taking me to practices and pushing me when I thought I couldn’t”. Carey also thanked his coaches who assisted in his development along the way. They included McPhee, Andy and Nancy Knowles, Sue Coleby, Allan Murray and Charles Sealy III.
He said he is grateful to Tierney for believing in him and allowing him to have this opportunity to be an addition to the McKendree family. He also thanked all of his teachers. In addition, Carey thanked God for helping him get this far.
Carey has his eyes set on getting at least one championship title and breaking a few school records during his collegiate career.