Swimmers are back in the pool at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatic Centre as a provision in the latest emergency powers orders. Local coaches expressed gratitude and relief in getting their swimmers back in the water. SIMBA FRENCH
It’s been two weeks since the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Dr. Hubert Minnis, announced that “professional athletes” can resume their training, and the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) has taken full advantage of the opportunity as it has directed swimmers that fall under that category to get back into their training programs at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatic Centre.
There are a number of swimmers vying to represent The Bahamas at the Olympic Games next summer, and it is important for them to remain in shape.
Local swim coaches were grateful for the opportunity to get their swimmers back in the pool. One such coach is the head coach for Alpha Aquatics, Dave Del Cueto.
“It is very good to get this opportunity because it has been a long time since the swimmers were in the pool. They had a hard time. We may not have nationals but the first meet maybe in October or November. It is good that they can come and swim. We and every group swim about one hour and 15 minutes,” Del Cueto said.
He coaches swimmers such as Ariel Weech, Luke-Kennedy and Mark-Anthony Thompson, Jared Fitzgerald and Samuel Gibson.
“They are now tired,” Del Cueto said. “After about three months of not swimming, they are tired but little by little they will get back in shape.”
Head Coach of Mako Aquatics and National Head Coach Travano McPhee expressed how happy he was at the prime minister’s announcement.
“I was extremely happy and relieved to be back at the pool coaching our college and national swimmers,” he said. “It was a relief seeing the swimmers back in their comfort zones. Swimmers need a routine and getting back into a regime is important.”
Some of the swimmers he coaches at the club level include DaVante Carey, Keianna Moss, Lamar Taylor, Anya MacPhail and Kaliyah Albury.
On Grand Bahama, swimmers who fall under the “professional athlete” category have began their pool training also.
The BAF expressed gratitude for the opportunity for their swimmers to get back in the pool.
“We are extremely grateful because we have swimmers on subvention and athletic scholarships with universities. When Dr. Minnis made the announcement, we were excited and ready to invite athletes to train,” said Georgette Albury, a representative of the BAF.
According to Albury, the federation looks at guidelines and protocols from FINA (International Swimming Federation) and USA Swimming and applies it to their own training.
The National Sporting Authority (NSA), the body that manages the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre and all national facilities, has opened the national aquatics center for the swimmers.
“The NSA was very accommodating with our request. We submitted a formal letter to the general manager, Quinton Brennen, outlining the names of the athletes with a detailed daily schedule. We also included the guidelines and procedures that we implemented, like no parents on deck, swimmers arriving and leaving in masks, no socializing before or after practice and no sharing of equipment and water among others,” Albury said.
This was expected to be a very busy time for swimmers, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, competitions locally and abroad have been put on hold. Swimmers were set to take part in the BAF National Championships, slated for June 18 to 21. It is the biggest swimming meet in the country, and at this point, there has been no confirmation on if that meet has been postponed or canceled.
Earlier last month, the CARIFTA Water Polo and Swimming Championships were set to be held in Wildey, Barbados. Those championships are still postponed with no new date being officially set as yet.