Bahamian junior swimmers are looking at the positive side with the cancelation of the 2020 CARIFTA Swimming Championships.
The meet was slated for April 11 to 14 at the Barbados Aquatic Center in Wildey, Barbados. It is traditionally held during the Easter holiday weekend.
Swimmers Nigel Forbes and Keianna Moss were set to swim in the 13-14 age group. Next year, if they make the team, they will start off at the bottom in the 15-17 age group.
“I’m very motivated to keep training because I know that this pandemic is only temporary, and I am looking forward to doing better in the 15-17 category. I am looking forward to that age category because I can test myself against older people and see where I stand,” Forbes said.
At last year’s CARIFTA, Forbes finished with two gold, three silver and one bronze individually and a silver and a bronze in the relays. His specializes in the breaststroke and butterfly strokes.
Forbes said he was upset when the meet was canceled because he was looking forward to his last year in the 13-14 category. He said he had unfinished business from a year ago, looking to break records and bring home gold medals.
Moss swam at the UANA (Union Americana de Natacion) Swimming Cup earlier this year and was looking forward to competing against some of the competitors from that meet at CARIFTA.
“I was really looking forward to CARIFTA after UANA as I was disappointed with my overall performance at UANA and wanted to perform better and lower my times at CARIFTA. I am looking forward to representing my country at CARIFTA next year by swimming hard and making it to finals in all of my races and bringing in as many points as I can for The Bahamas,” Moss said.
Individually, she finished with one gold and silver at last CARIFTA, and added a silver medal in the relays. She specializes in the backstroke.
One of her teammates in the 15-17 age group next year, providing that they both are selected, is expected to be Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson.
“I was prepared for the cancelation of CARIFTA, but now that it is official, this only means that I and other athletes have more time to prepare and look forward to next year’s competition. I’m using the extra time to my advantage and I’m working on things I hadn’t previously had time for – all of the little things that make a difference in order for a phenomenal result,” Thompson said.
Thompson will be in the middle of her age group next year and said she expects some serious competition that will help to bring out incredible results. She said she knows that the other countries are preparing for next year as well.
In the pool last year, Thompson finished with three silver medals and one bronze individually; and in the relays she had two silvers and one bronze. She competes in the free, breast and individual medley (IM), and dabbles in the back.
Earning her spot on the team this year, in her first year of eligibility, was Rayven Ward. She swims in the 11-12 age group and is still eligible for that age group next year. She said she was excited when she found out she made the team.
The 11-year-old was looking forward to the meet and said she is sad that it is canceled, but was mentally prepared for it.
“I was looking forward to doing my personal best times in my events, especially the 50 meters fly, and bringing home a medal for The Bahamas. I was also looking forward to being a part of the CARIFTA relay team,” Ward said. “If CARIFTA is next year I will be at the top of my age group. For the next few months I will be training very hard for the next competition.”
Thompson said that being a part of a national team is motivation for her and being on the CARIFTA team is a great way to be exposed to amazing competition. She also loves Team Bahamas’ team spirit.
A patriotic Moss said that the best part about swimming for The Bahamas is the pride and joy she feels when going into the stadium wearing the aquamarine, gold and black. Her goal is to always make The Bahamas proud and do her best for the country.
All four of these swimmers are looking forward to being on the team next year to successfully defend The Bahamas’ CARIFTA title, in the process claiming the country’s fourth straight victory at CARIFTA and sixth out of seven.