Sports

Swimming nationals might have to be pushed back

The much-anticipated Bahamas Aquatic Federation’s (BAF) 2020 National Swimming Championships might be pushed back, according to BAF President Algernon Cargill.

The meet is set for June 18 to 21 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Center, this most recent update was announced on Monday.

According to Cargill, with the disruption of training due to measures imposed with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the expected regression in the economy, they might have no choice but to postpone the meet.

“Given the fact that our athletes are no longer in the water – together with the very real situation given the slow down in economic activity, we may not have a sponsor for the 2020 national swimming championships 2020 – it may mean that our dates for the championships may change,” the letter stated.

A change in date has not been set in stone as there is still a meeting of the executive board that is pending. A final decision will be made by executives based on the advice of the government of The Bahamas and health officials.

FINA, the international aquatics federation, advised BAF that all Olympic qualifying events have been canceled and the new process for the Olympics will be announced later. This means that the 2020 BAF National Swimming Championships will no longer be a qualifying event for the Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Monday that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that was set for this summer has been postponed to July 23 to August 8, 2021. The change came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paralympic Games was also postponed from this summer to August 24 to September 5, 2021. Japan remains the host nation.

Cargill said FINA made an official notification that athletes who have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 will hold on to their qualification status.

The Bahamas has a few athletes who were looking to qualify for Olympics, potentially under the universality standard which allows a country to enter one male and female regardless of time.

Those who are closest to qualifying standards are multiple national record holder Joanna Evans, Albury Higgs, Laura Morley and male swimmers Jared Fitzgerald and Izaak Bastian.

There is an emergency order in place here in The Bahamas which prohibits swimmers from using training facilities until April 8. The BAF president said it is a difficult period for the swimming fraternity at this time.

“I can only imagine the disappointments that our athletes, coaches and parents are feeling as a result of the postponement/cancellation of many international meets this year,” Cargill stated.

He urged athletes to be encouraged and creative.

“I ask you (athletes) not to be discouraged and use this opportunity to find more creative ways to train, inclusive of building more mental toughness in the water, and also to focus on the bright future we have ahead.”

The CARIFTA Swimming Championships was originally set for April 11 to 15 in Wildey, Barbados, but that meet had to be postponed. Team Bahamas was looking to win a fourth straight CARIFTA swimming title. The Bahamas’ CARIFTA Water Polo Team was to be in action this week in Barbados. Both teams were already ratified. Barbados has postponed both meets to a later date yet to be announced.

Team Bahamas is set to participate in the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation (CCCAN) Swimming and Water Polo Championships in late June. The BAF pulled out from hosting that meet here in The Bahamas and a new host will be announced later.

Cargill said he can imagine how heartbroken the first and final year team members who qualified for CARIFTA may feel at this time, with the postponement of that event as well as the uncertainty of CCCAN 2020 and the shift of the dates for nationals.

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