After a one-year hiatus due to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) will get the 49th REV Bahamas National Swimming Championships underway at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex tomorrow.
The highly anticipated event will see some of the top local junior and senior swimmers along with some strong international swimmers gracing the pool at the complex in what should be a very competitive meet. The defending champions Mako Aquatics Club will be looking to hold off some of the other local clubs, attempting to win a third straight title.
The meet wraps up on Sunday night. The morning sessions on all four days start at 9 o’ clock. The evening sessions start at 6 o’ clock for the first three days. The Sunday evening session will get underway at 5 o’ clock.
President of Bahamas Aquatics Algernon Cargill said the federation is excited for the championships.
“This will hopefully be a very successful nationals qualifier. We have entrances from about 100 international swimmers who will be competing over the next four days. We are excited about that,” Cargill said. “The competition is expected to be very fierce among the Bahamians. We will have several teams vying to be the national champions.”
The meet is a FINA (International Swimming Federation) sanctioned meet for the 2021 Olympics Games and the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships. It is the last qualifier for the Olympics.
Bahamian Olympic hopefuls set to be in action are Laura Morley, Margaret and Lilly Higgs, Izaak Bastian, Jared Fitzgerald, Lamar Taylor and DaVante Carey. Top Bahamian juniors such as Marvin Johnson, Nigel Forbes, Donald Saunders, Keianna Moss, Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson, Jamilah Hepburn, Zoe Williamson, Tristin Ferguson, Zizou Salting, Rhanishka Gibbs and Delaney Mizell will also be competing.
Set to fly in for the meet will be swimmers from Venezuela, India, the United States of America (USA), Barbados, Guyana, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Suriname, Mexico, Cuba and Bolivia among others.
Some junior athletes from the region also opted to make the trip to The Bahamas instead of going to the 33rd Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) Swimming Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this weekend.
“They know the quality of meets The Bahamas puts on so they know that their athletes will have competition. They also know that we here in The Bahamas are a very welcoming people and will always encourage athletes to attend. They are competing for good swims,” Cargill stated.
Cargill stayed away from giving a prediction as to which club will be crowned champions, but said: “May the best club win.”
There are no spectators allowed at the meet because of the COVID-19 protocols. However, the meet will be aired live on REVTV Channel 212 and streamed live on the Bahamas Aquatics Facebook page, and also on their website, www.bahamasaquatics.com.
“The meet is closed to spectators in the stands,” Cargill said. “The stands are not big enough to accommodate spectators and athletes. In order to properly social distance, we are spreading the athletes through the stands where spectators normally sit. As a result, we cannot have spectators in the stands. We are very disappointed that we will not have spectators in the stands but we had to make a decision in the best interest of our athletes and the swimming community.”
Cargill stated that they will be following the COVID-19 protocols to ensure that the athletes, coaches and officials are safe.