Not since the French Antilles dominated the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in the mid-2000s has a nation been so prolific and efficient in the region’s biggest swim meet for junior athletes.
The Bahamas reigns supreme, winning a third straight CARIFTA swimming title this year, and fifth in the past six years. It’s a stretch that is unmatched by any one nation in the past two decades, and as a result, The Bahamas’ CARIFTA swimming team was named The Nassau Guardian’s Team of the Year for 2019.
The Bahamas finished with 889.50 points, beating second-place Jamaica by over 100 points. In fact, four of The Bahamas’ victories in CARIFTA swimming this decade has been by more than 100 points, completely dominating the junior regional meet. Jamaica was second this year with 748 points, and Trinidad & Tobago rounded out the top three with 676 points.
In the medal standings, The Bahamas was dominant again, winning 73 total medals – 35 gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze. It was the most for the country since a 79-medal haul in Kingston, Jamaica in 2007. That year, The Bahamas won a record 42 gold, 17 silver and 20 bronze, but still finished second to the French Antilles.
This year, the 35 gold easily surpassed Jamaica’s total of 22 gold. That island nation added 25 silver and 12 bronze for 59 total medals. Trinidad & Tobago rounded out the top three in the medal standings with 43 total medals – 17 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze.
One needs to look no further than Marvin Johnson’s superb swimming to understand the sheer dominance of Team Bahamas at the 34th CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Wildey, Barbados this year.
Johnson was unbeatable, swimming his way to 10 individual gold medals and easily winning the high point award in the 11-12 boys division. He added four relay gold medals to finish with 14 gold medals in total – the most collectively for any Bahamian since Jeremy Knowles won 16 in the late nineties. McKayla Lightbourn had 11 individual gold medals and 13 in total for The Bahamas in Kingston, Jamaica in 2007; Alana Dillette had 10 individual gold medals for The Bahamas in Willemstad, Curaçao in 2005; and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace collected nine individual gold medals and 13 in total for The Bahamas, again in Kingston, Jamaica in 2007.
Johnson, 12, scored a total of 90 points for Team Bahamas at this year’s CARIFTA Championships, leading the charge in the pool at the four-day swim meet over the Easter holiday weekend.
Individually, he won gold in the 50, 100, 200 and 400 meters (m) free events, the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke events, the 50 and 100m butterfly events, and the 200m Individual Medley (IM). In the relays, he won gold in the 4×50 and 4x100m freestyle events, the 4x100m medley relay, and the 4x100m mixed freestyle relay.
It led to the second-best collective performance by Team Bahamas, medals-wise, in the history of the CARIFTA Swimming Championships.
The race for second in The Nassau Guardian’s Team of the Year competition was intense as four teams were separated by just three points. The Special Olympics Bahamas World Games team, which won 14 total medals – six gold, three silver and five bronze – at the 15th Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), finished second in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Team of the Year for 2019. The 24-member team competed in five sporting disciplines – athletics, swimming, bowling, bocce and soccer – and had one of The Bahamas’ biggest medal hauls in the history of the games.
Finishing third in the race for The Nassau Guardian’s Team of the Year for 2019 was The Bahamas’ Under-17 (U17) boys national basketball team, which was third at the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas Centrobasket U17 Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico and qualified for the 2020 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championships. It’s just the third time that The Bahamas has qualified for that competition, and a top four finish there would put The Bahamas in the 2021 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.
CARIFTA Athletics was fourth in the voting process after collecting 26 total medals – nine gold, seven silver and 10 bronze – in George Town, Cayman Islands, over the Easter holiday weekend for a second-place finish behind Jamaica. It was the second consecutive second-place finish in CARIFTA Athletics for The Bahamas, and the fourth in the last five years. The nine gold medals won were the most for the country in CARIFTA Athletics since The Bahamas won 14 gold medals in Hamilton, Bermuda in 2012.
Perhaps the most discussed Bahamian team this year, the water polo guys, represented the fifth spot in voting for The Nassau Guardian’s Team of the Year for 2019. For the second consecutive year, The Bahamas won three medals in CARIFTA water polo. The Under-16 boys won gold, the Under-14 mixed team settled for silver, and the Under-19 boys captured the bronze, all in Wildey, Barbados. In 2018, all three teams won gold.
The full breakdown of points for team of the year as voted on by The Nassau Guardian’s sports team is listed with this article.