Gibson, Singh put on show in Curaçao
The Bahamas, as a team, dominated the 36th CARIFTA Swimming Championships on its way to a fifth consecutive victory and seventh in the past eight meets. Leading the charge for The Bahamas in the pool were Saleste Gibson and David Singh who took home the high point awards for the 11-12 girls and boys divisions, respectively.
The Bahamas also had Rhanishka Gibbs and Nigel Forbes setting records in their races in the 15-17 girls and boys divisions, respectively.
Gibson scored a whopping 75 points. She was the one being chased for all but two of her seven individual races at the Sentro Deportivo Kòrsou – Pisina Enith Brigitha in Willemstad, Curaçao, from April 6-9. The Bahamas also had the second-best swimmer in that division with Skyler Smith coming away with 45 points.
“I am happy and proud of myself to win the high point award and all that I accomplished,” Gibson said.
Singh won the 11-12 boys division high point award by amassing 73 points. Singh, Gibson and Smith accounted for 16 individual gold medals for The Bahamas.
“I am very grateful to participate in my second year of CARIFTA. I have been training hard and I am happy to win the high point,” Singh said.
Gibson swam in nine individual races and four relay races. Individually, she swam the 50 meters (m) backstroke, 100m butterfly, 50, 100 and 200m freestyle, 50m fly, 200m individual medley (IM), 200m fly and 400m free. She finished fourth in the 50m back and swam away with the silver in the 200m fly. In the other individual events, she won gold.
“My performance was great,” Gibson said. “I was proud of myself and what I did over the four days. It was a great experience for me. I think that with the help of my coach, I worked hard to get to this position.”
She won the gold in the 100m fly with a personal best time of 1:09.11 to get her winning performances underway.
It was another victory for the swimmer in the 50m fly when she almost went under the 30-second mark. She powered her way to touch the wall in 30.02 seconds. It was another personal best time for her.
Gibson had a good swim in the 200m IM and she came out on top with a personal best of 2:43.24. She attributed her performance to improving her times in the back and breaststroke events.
In the 100m free, Gibson went into the final with a heats time of 1:05.41. She swam a much faster time in the final when she finished the race in 1:03.23.
It was a straight final in the 200m fly and she was able to come out on top in a time of 2:55.18.
Gibson lowered her personal best of 5:07.73 to 5:06.29 in the 400m free which was also a straight final.
Her final individual gold medal came in her final individual race of the meet – the 50m free. In that race, she posted a personal best time of 28.69 seconds.
Gibson swam in four relays – the 400m free, 400m medley, mixed 400m free, and 200m free. She helped those teams to win their races.
Singh outdid Gibson in terms of the number of races he swam in – 10 races. He secured the gold medal in the 50m back, 200 and 400m IM, 50 and 100m breast and 400m free for a total of six gold medals. He won silver in the 100 and 200m back events. He was fourth in the 50m fly and false started in the 200m breast race which wasn’t revealed until after he touched the wall first by about four seconds.
“It feels great to bring in all those points. Last year, I only won one medal and this year, I was able to score all of these points and win gold medals,” Singh said.
After his disqualification in the 200m breast, Singh had a good start in the 50m back and swam a personal best of 31.15 seconds to win that race and grab his first gold medal of the meet.
He then won the gold medal in a grueling 400m IM and came out with a personal best of 5:24.80.
After swimming the 400m IM in a personal best time, he also touched the wall first in the 200m IM in a personal best time, finishing in 2:29.75.
It was another quick race for Singh when he posted 34.63 seconds to win the 50m breast.
Singh was back in action in the pool in the 400m free and he was untouchable as he powered his way to winning that race in 4:46.23.
The 100m breast, in which he got his final gold medal, featured him powering through to win that event in 1:16.03.
Singh was impressive in the 11-12 boys relay and mixed relay races, helping them to be undefeated. Those relays were the 400m free, 400m medley, 400m mixed relay and the 200 free relay.
Smith swam in her first ever CARIFTA, but it did not look so in the pool as she quietly came away with three gold medals.
She got gold in the 100m back, 200m fly, and 200m back events. The 100m back featured saw the 11-year-old dropping her time to 1:14.19 for the victory.
Smith changed strokes and went into the 200m fly race in which she came out on top in 2:51.60. Her final gold medal came in the 200m back in which she obliterated her personal best time of 2:46.09, swimming a new personal best of 2:39.41.
She was also a part of the 400m medley relay team with Gibson that won gold.
Gibbs broke the CARIFTA record in the the 15-17 girls 50m breast in the preliminaries of that event on Saturday morning, touching the wall in 32.29 seconds. The 50m free final featured her posting a time of 32.88 seconds to win the gold medal. She also went on to win the 100m breast in a personal best of 1:14.74.
This CARIFTA was Forbes’ final one, having aged out. He left his name in the record books for the 100m fly, posting a time of 54.73 seconds.
Kimiaya Saunders was brilliant in the 11-12 girls category, coming away with two individual gold medals. She won the 50 breast with a time of 36.95 seconds. Her second individual gold came in the 100m breast when she touched the wall first in a time of 1:23.10.
The Bahamas never trailed in the meet as they secured their fifth straight title with 1,135 points.
Placing second was the Cayman Islands with 752 points. Trinidad and Tobago placed third with 534 points. The Bahamas was able to cart off the most gold medals (37), most silver medals (27), and most bronze medals (21) at the meet for a total of 85 medals.
The Bahamas will host the 37th edition of the championships in 2024.