#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#THE Easter holiday weekend was expected to be a time when the Bahamas Aquatics Federation capitalised on the opportunity to successfully defend their CARIFTA championship titles.However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the meet was another casualty in the world of sports.
#The 36-member swim Team Bahamas was going after its fourth straight championship title and its sixth in the past seven years had the meet taken place in Barbados last weekend.
#The top performer at the 2019 CARIFTA Swimming Championships, Marvin Johnson, and several team members, discussed the cancellation of the 2020 event.
#“It’s really affected me knowing that all my hard work and dedication has gone down the drain. I was really looking forward to representing the Bahamas to the best of my abilities. The pool closure has impacted me and not being able to swim daily has been a tough transition. Swimming has been a part of my life since the age of three and I really do miss it,” he said in a message posted to the Bahamas Aquatics Facebook page. “It’s stopped all possibility of training. We can’t utilise beaches or running facilities and it has made it very difficult to train. My coach has sent me various links on YouTube to create some form of training but it is very challenging.”
#Johnson collected 14 gold medals, 10 individual and four as a member of relay teams overall en route to the High Point trophy in the 11-12 boys category with 90 points.
#Elle Theberges, a first time CARIFTA qualifier, expressed her disappointment at the missed opportunity.
#“When I first found out [the meet was cancelled] it was very upsetting, I was sad and even sometimes now I still get sad. It was my first time getting into CARIFTA and I wanted to get the full experience but I realise its for the best because everyone needs to be safe,” she said. “With the curfew, we’re all now being at home in our communities, coach sends us workouts, we can spend more time with our families but I really hope this goes away soon.”
#Many other CARIFTA hopefuls shared her disappointment.
#Zaylie Elizabeth Thompson, a member of several CARIFTA teams, urged her teammates to stay active in their downtime.
#“You might not be able to go to the pool, go to the track or go to the court anymore but that does not mean you have to stop training. You have to do things to keep yourself active so that when you do return you’re not too far behind and you don’t have to do too much to catch up,” she said.
#“We have to grow from what we’ve learned and how our lives have drastically changed. We have to learn from it, knowing that this global pandemic happened, our lives have changed, we are out of the pool and out of school for weeks, however, we can work on land training, mental training, focus on topics we may not have focused on while we were in school.”
#Seannia Norville Smith added: “The cancellation is on my mind and we are reminded of it almost everyday. What is happening is scary, but when we are able to get back in the pool we have to be mentally and physically prepared. The amount of personal interaction presented at CARIFTA is a great concern and honestly I would rather not go than take the chance, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s a terrible thing that’s happening to us all but it is going to get cured. We have to keep thinking positively, saying it is going to get better it is going to be cured. When it is then we can proceed to the CARIFTA Games.”
#Zidane Saltings provided a unique perspective and said it provided an opportunity for growth during this timeframe.
#“I was upset and I was anxious about us not being able to swim. We’re swimmers, we need to be in the pool, but I realised that being anxious, worried, scared will not help,” she said.
#“CARIFTA and swimming are cancelled and with everything that is happening right now, it’s training and practice for your mind, for your mental toughness. My coach sent out motivational clips and different exercises for the swimmers to do and I made it to a point where I decided I would compensate the hours I put into swimming and I will put them into dryland training.”
#The team was once again to be led by head coach Travano McPhee, assisted by Andy Loviett, Cameron Bruney and David Delcueto.
#Former CARIFTA and NCAA swimmers, Laura Morely and Izaak Bastian, empathised with their young teammates, particularly those with their first opportunity to compete at the national team level.
#“That was my absolute favourite meet growing up and I know how upsetting it might be for the younger kids to lose out on such a great opportunity, but it’s really important right now to follow health guidelines and limit possible exposure to COVID-19,” Morley said. “The younger kids shouldn’t get too upset, if anything it’ll give them an opportunity to take a step back from the sport, re-evaluate their goals and get even more exciting for training next year. Try to view the positives of the situation.”
#Bastian was recently named an All-American in two events following his sophomore season at Florida State.
#A lot of the kids must be disappointed, especially if it was their first time or their last one, it’s kind of sad to have that opportunity taken away from you,” he said.
#“For the first timers, those kids now know what it takes to make a team so they have something to train for next year and they can use it as a benchmark for next season to make adjustments in their training.”
#In winning last year’s title, Team Bahamas picked up a total of 73 medals, inclusive of 35 gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze to finish well ahead of Jamaica, who had 22 gold, 25 silver and 12 bronze for their total of 59. The Bahamas also finished with 889.50 points ahead of runners-up Jamaica with 748.50.
#The Bahamas has won three straight CARIFTA swimming titles and five of the last six.
#In water polo, the Bahamas’ under-16 boys are the defending CARIFTA champions. The U-14 coed team won a silver medal, while the U-19 team won bronze.