This month was set to be a busy one for the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF), but the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a postponement of the 2020 BAF National Swimming Championships.
The meet was slated for June 18-21 at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex. This year’s meet is still set to be the 49th edition of the championships, but no new date has been announced as yet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on not only the swimming community, but sports on the whole. In swimming, only national team swimmers and swimmers on government subvention have had access to the pool at the Betty Kelly-Kenning complex.
BAF President Algernon Cargill said: “These changes can only mean that we cannot hold the 2020 National Swimming Championships in June 2020. Our swimmers are slowly returning to the pool under a very regulated social distancing environment, with no parents allowed in the stands and limited competitive swimmers at each session. We have not yet returned to the pool non-national team swimmers or learn-to-swim swimmers, and the darlings of the nationals, the 8-and-under and 9-10 swimmers. This is really not ideal but it’s a start and we hope to be back to normal later this summer.”
Cargill stated that at this time, they cannot confirm if there will be a nationals at all this year but added that he remains hopeful.
“As the year unfolds, and we can see the impact of returning to normalcy of our swimming program, we can confirm, say in September 2020, if we will be able to hold a modified national swimming championships,” he said.
As it stands, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has introduced phase three of the country’s reopening of the economy plan. Phase four of the plan will allow the other swimmers to resume training in the national facility.
The BAF president hopes that all the swimmers can return to the pool in the next 30 days, particularly those swimmers who have not done any pool training since March, when the national emergency orders initially came into effect due to the presence of COVID-19.
The nationals is the biggest local swim meet on the calendar. Clubs from Grand Bahama and New Providence compete at a very high level for bragging rights, and also, international swimmers compete for a chance to lower their qualifying times or to qualify altogether for larger international meets such as the FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Swimming Championships and the Summer Olympic Games.
Mako Aquatics Swimming Club is seeking a three-peat at this year’s nationals but the competition is expected to be stiff.
At last year’s swimming nationals, Mako Aquatics repeated as champions with 1,862 points. Finishing second was the YMCA WaveRunners out of Freeport, Grand Bahama, with 1,458 points. Alpha Aquatics finished in third place with 1,159 points.
This postponement of nationals comes during the same period when the 2020 CARIFTA Aquatics Championships was officially canceled. That junior regional meet was canceled last Tuesday.