Island nation steps in after St. Lucia is unable to host; facilities developing slowly
The 2023 CARIFTA Aquatics Championships, that was initially set for St. Lucia, will now be held at the alternate site, Curaçao. That decision was made in early September after the CARIFTA Congress was not satisfied that St. Lucia’s facilities would be ready in time for the meet, which is set for April 8-11, 2023.
The last time it was held in Curaçao was in 2005.
President of the Bahamas Aquatics Federation Algernon Cargill said the decision was made quickly as they wanted to ensure that the event was going to take place.
“They are building a multi-million dollar swimming complex in St. Lucia. The facilities have just started. In order to ensure that the championships are happening without any interruption, a CARIFTA Congress gave St. Lucia a deadline to be at a certain progress on their pool. After that date was not met, the congress, led by St. Lucia, agreed that it would be best for the alternate, Curaçao, to host the event,” Cargill said.
Happening in St. Lucia was going to be a first time occurrence for the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships. The venue change does not change the way that The Bahamas prepares for championships, said Cargill.
“We competed in Curaçao before so we know the facilities very well and we are happy to return to Curaçao. The main facility is a 50-meter pool so we are excited about that, and we know that Curaçao will do a good job in putting it on,” Cargill said. He has volunteered himself as a FINA (International Swimming Federation) Bureau member and a senior member of the fraternity in swimming to provide support if needed in organizing the championships as they look to ensure that the high CARIFTA standards continue.
The Bahamas will be looking to secure a fifth consecutive title in 2023, and seventh in the last eight meets. Cargill said that they cannot get too comfortable as the other countries are making progress.
“We know that Jamaica has done very well and, of course, Trinidad and Tobago; and with the championships in Curaçao, it is kind of inexpensive for them to get there, to knock The Bahamas off as champions. What is great about our team moving forward next year is that most of the team will return except for the four who aged out. As long as our athletes remain focused and continue to train hard, The Bahamas should not have a challenge at all repeating as CARIFTA Champions for the fifth consecutive time,” Cargill stated.
The Bahamas came away with 975 total points for the win in the four-day meet in Barbados this year. Overall, The Bahamas finished with 65 total medals – 14 gold, 22 silver and 29 bronze. Jamaica was second with 833.50 points while the Cayman Islands was third with 754 points.
With five of the six members of the historic world junior championships team returning to CARIFTA, Cargill is hopeful that they come with a new perspective – to keep winning. In addition, he is hopeful that all the swimmers focus on performing well in other competitions.
“It is great to win CARIFTA but you have to think beyond CARIFTA in terms of development,” Cargill said. “The swimmers now have to think about winning at the Pan Am Games, CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games and medaling at the world junior championships. CARIFTA is great but it is only the beginning and it is an elementary meet in the overall cycle. The CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation) Championships is a lot more challenging than CARIFTA, so is the Junior Pan Am Games. While we want to win CARIFTA, we cannot be comfortable winning CARIFTA. We have to think bigger and dream bigger if we want to continue at a higher standard at the senior level.”
The Bahamas is still set to host the meet in 2024.