Swim coach Bert Bell passes away

The local sporting community mourns the passing of internationally acclaimed coach Albert ‘Bert’ Bell whose death leaves a void in the development of swimming and cycling on the island of Grand Bahama.

Bell passed away over the weekend at the age of 75 at his home in Grand Bahama. He coached some of the finest athletes in swimming and cycling in the country including both sons David and Andrew who excelled locally and 

regionally. The elder Bell is a member of the Class of 2008 of the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame.

“We are saddened by the death of our 2008 inductee Albert ‘Bert’ Bell. He was a dedicated educator and a committed athletic coach,” said Harold Williams, chairman of the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame. “We mourn his passing and we salute him. Bert Bell’s induction was related to his local, national, and world-class achievements as a swim coach. His contributions shaped swim champions and more importantly, he molded university graduates and everyday good model citizens. Bert Bell took pride in bringing out the best in young people and discipline was his trademark. He was a community giant and he will be missed.

“As we mourn his death, we find solace in knowing that the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame organization gave Bert Bell his deserved recognition while he was among the living. His great legacy will never die. We extend heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the wider sports 

community. May his soul rest in peace and a swimming pool greet him in heaven.”

Just recently, a committee of parents and former pupils of Bell came together to form a petition, seeking to honor him by having a major road on Grand Bahama named in his honor. Unfortunately, Bell passed away before that request was granted.

The noted Bahamian sportsman coached a number of local swimmers who went on to compete at the highest levels of swimming internationally. He, along with several others, were instrumental in starting the ‘Learn to Swim’ program at the YMCA in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Bell is one of the founding members of the Freeport Aquatics Club.

Bahamian Olympian Vereance Burrows, a former student and athlete of Bell at the Freeport Aquatics Club, said in an earlier interview that the dedication of his former coach was unmatched and allowed himself and other accomplished swimmers in the country to reach new heights.

“I was about maybe seven or eight years old when I tried to skip practice one Saturday morning. My dad knocked on my door and told me someone was outside honking their horn and said it was for me. I went outside and saw that Mr. Bell had the entire swim team loaded up on the back of his truck honking the horn and telling me to come outside, it’s time for practice. He drove me and the whole team to practice and dropped me all the way home after that. I learned to never skip practice or he’s going to wake up the whole neighborhood and have some parents upset at 6 a.m. That’s the kind of dedication to the sport he had and that’s the discipline he instilled in a lot of us,” said Burrows.

Bell is a legend in swimming in the country and is respected as a coach who dedicated countless hours toward the development of youth in sports, particularly swimming and cycling, on the island of Grand Bahama. He will be missed. 

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