Team Bahamas departs for UANA Swimming Cup

The Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) has ratified a 16-member team for the 2nd Swimming Union of the Americas (UANA) Swimming Cup, and the squad left the country yesterday en route to Lima, Peru, for the regional championships. Competition gets underway tomorrow and wraps up on Sunday.

The event will be held at the Videna Aquatics Complex, in the same pool where the swimming portion of last year’s Pan American Games was held.

Representing Team Bahamas for the females are Mia Patton (11-12), Rhanishka Gibbs (13-14), Devin Cuffy-Bethel (13-14), Keianna Moss (13-14), Jamilah Hepburn (15-17) and Delaney Mizell (15-17). The males are Jarrod Charles (11-12), Caleb Ferguson (11-12), Ellie Gibson (11-12), Asher Johnson (11-12), Caden Wells (11-12), Nigel Forbes (13-14), Marvin Johnson (13-14), Kierro Stubbs (15-17), Lamar Taylor (15-17) and Erald Thompson III (15-17).

The head coach is Travano McPhee, and the team manager is Gena Taylor.

Moss, Taylor, Hepburn, Forbes and Johnson were members of Team Bahamas at the inaugural UANA Swimming Cup in Coral Springs, Florida, in 2018.

Moss will be swimming in six races – the 200 meters (m) intermediate medley (IM); 50m freestyle; 50 and 100m butterfly; and the 50 and 100m backstroke events.

“I think I’ll perform very well once I am rested and I start to cut back on food intake,” Moss said.

The 14-year-old added that once she works on the little details she’ll bring home some medals for The Bahamas.

She added: “I am really focusing on my backstroke events especially the 50m back because I am listed third. I am trying to medal in every single event and do my best.”

Swimming in four races will be Thompson. He will be swimming in the 200 and 400m IM; 50 free; and the 100m breaststroke events.

He has quite a bit of international experience in the pool.

“From my experience, I cannot overthink, or I would have it be less of a novelty to me. It will be more about just getting back in the feel in the same stuff I have been doing over the years,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who is at the bottom of his age group, said he has been having a rough season but he hopes this meet is the beginning of good things to come.

“I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to represent my country even though I am at the bottom of my age group. From here, I just want to utilize the opportunity and do my best,” Thompson said.

Hepburn will be swimming in the 50m free; 50 and 100m breast; and the 4x50m mixed free relay events. The 16-year-old hopes to attain best times in Peru.

“I hope to go best times and hopefully win a medal. I am seeded in good position for all three of my races,” Hepburn said. “I tend to take this competition a little more seriously that CARIFTA because it’s bigger. I would much more like to medal in this competition than CARIFTA. We will be swimming in the same facility that they hosted the Pan Am Games in and I am really excited to see what the pool looks like because it is a world-class facility.”

The meet will conduct timed finals, meaning that the swimmers will have to give it their all when they get in the pool in each of their events. Unlike at CARIFTA, there will be no heats.

Taylor will be busy in the pool as he will swim in eight events. The Grand Bahamian will take part in the 50 and 100m fly; 50 and 100m free; 50 and 100m back; 50m breast; 200m IM and he will team up with Hepburn in the mixed relay.

He will be one of the senior swimmers on the team and has a lot of experience including swimming at the International Swimming Federation’s (FINA) World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary, last year.

“For some of them, this will not be their first international meet and it will be their first big international meet,” Taylor said. “It will be a totally different setting and a bigger pool. I am just going to comfort them and give them advice on how to prepare themselves before their races to make them feel comfortable.”

Although it is business for him and the team, Taylor said he wants the team to also have fun.

Taylor added that his main goal is to achieve an Olympic ‘B’ qualifying time in the 50m free. His time in that event is 23.33 seconds, and the Olympic ‘B’ cut time is 22.67 seconds.

For Taylor, the timed finals is a lot of pressure because at most meets there are heats and finals. The Grand Bahamian said he will focus on the times he wants to swim.

Ferguson will be in action in seven events in Peru. Those races are the 50, 100, 200 and 400m free; 50m fly; and 4×50 medley and freestyle relays.

This will be the biggest meet for the 12-year-old swimmer in his career, but he said he is not nervous.

“I am hoping to get some intense competition to push me to get even faster,” Ferguson said. “I have been cutting down on what I eat and making sure I eat properly. I have been training extremely hard to get where I am now.”

At the last UANA Swimming Cup in Coral Springs, Florida, The Bahamas finished with 14 medals.

This edition features over 25 countries.

Established in 1948, UANA is a sports organization with the purpose of organizing, supervising and controlling the amateur aquatics activities of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, master and open water swimming, in the Western Hemisphere.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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