TOKYO, Japan – The Bahamas’ swimming program has experienced success periodically over the years, with the men and women taking turns in their respective levels of superiority.
In one Olympic cycle, it would be the women who are dominant and in another, the men would take charge.
During the days of Allan Murray, Dorian Roach, Jeremy Knowles, Chris Vythoulkas, Nicholas Rees and others, the national swimming program was top heavy with some of the finest male swimmers in the Caribbean region. Then came the era of Alana Dillette, Nikia Deveaux, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, the Lightbourne sisters (Teisha and Alicia) and Ariel Weech, among others, leading one of the finest crops of women swimmers a single nation had ever produced in this region.
As we look forward to the 2024 Olympics, which is just three years away, one takes notice of the talented and efficient male swimmers who are coming up in The Bahamas. They certainly can’t be overlooked.
One of those swimmers in particular, Izaak Bastian, owns all three national breaststroke records and was the only Bahamian male swimmer at the Tokyo Olympic Games here in Tokyo, Japan.
At just 20, Bastian is already an experienced swimmer internationally, having swam in the FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Championships and FINA World Junior Championships, the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games, the Youth Olympics and the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, just to name a few.
In Tokyo, he was just a second off his personal best national record time in the men’s 100m breast and turned in a respectable swim in the men’s 200m breast.
Coming up behind Bastian are male swimmers such as DaVante Carey, Lamar Taylor, Marvin Johnson and Nigel Forbes.
Bahamas Aquatics Federation President Algernon Cargill expects all of them to continue to progress and make a push toward qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.
“We have a strong group of young men who are coming up. Definitely, several of them, if they stay in the sport, can compete at the Paris Olympic Games and the world championships as well,” said Cargill. “The women are doing well also, but it seems like the young men have the edge right now in terms of who are coming up to represent The Bahamas in swimming at the highest level. There are so many young talented swimmers who will position The Bahamas to be a swimming powerhouse going forward.”
The Bahamas has been completely dominant at the CARIFTA level in swimming over the past decade. The Bahamas has won three straight CARIFTA swimming titles and five of the last six. Cancellations of the last two CARIFTA Swimming Championships due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented The Bahamas from winning a fourth straight title. That goal is still the focus for when CARIFTA returns, hopefully next year.
With the crop of young men who are coming up, and Bahamian swimmers on the whole in both genders, Cargill said he sees no reason why they won’t be able to continue to dominate at the regional level on the junior side and improve significantly on the senior level internationally. He expects there to be strong representation for The Bahamas at the next Olympics in swimming.
The sky is the limit for the young Bahamian swimmers.