Quartet of Bahamian swimmers ‘age out’ on high note after four-peat
One final CARIFTA for awesome foursome
Quartet of Bahamian swimmers ‘age out’ on high note after four-peat
It is just over a week since The Bahamas won its historic fourth straight CARIFTA Swimming Championship title at the Barbados Aquatic Center in Wildey, Barbados. Amongst the 36 swimmers who made the trip to Barbados were team captains and 15-17 age category swimmers Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson, Erald Thompson III, Jake Thompson and Delaney Mizell who were happy to be a part of history as they aged out of the meet.
The Bahamas won the championship with 975 points, four-peating as champions. The win was also the sixth win for the country in seven championships. Jamaica and the Cayman Islands finished second and third, respectively. Jamaica scored 833.50 points and Cayman finished with 754 points.
Erald Thompson knew there was a lot of pressure coming into this year’s CARIFTA Championships after they won a third straight title back in 2019. The 2020 and 2021 editions were canceled due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We knew what we had to live up to and honestly to sum it up, it feels great. It feels good to lead that historic moment – it feels very good,” Erald Thompson said.
Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson was happy to have help leading the group of swimmers, particularly the younger ones and the first-timers.
“It is thrilling to know that we as team captains were able to lead a team emotionally and lead us to this victory. It is very relieving to know that we did a good job. I am excited to see what they feel about us as team captains. I had a lot of fun with this group and for many of them, they were first-timers and they did not know what to expect. They pulled it together when they needed to and they worked hard. It was fun and exciting to be a team captain,” Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson said.
For Mizell, she said it was great to come away with the four-peat after four days and eight sessions of swimming.
This was only Jake Thompson’s second CARIFTA. His first was in 2017 when The Bahamas hosted it and started the winning streak. He said he didn’t recall what it was like since there was a gap in the last five years for him. He quickly adopted and was able to help motivate the younger ones.
“Leaving here with a victory is sweet. Being able to say that I was a team captain on a team in the Caribbean is sweet and you can tell all of your friends that. It is an experience on its own,” Jake Thompson said.
He swam in 14 races inclusive of preliminaries, finals and relays. He took part in the middle and long distance races such as the 400 meters (m), 800m and the 1500m freestyle events.
“I swam a lot of distance. It hurt but I got through it,” he said. “Seeing other kids swim made it so much more bearable than swimming it alone. Also, having teammates on the sideline and hearing the cowbells and drums, it really motivates you.”
He finished with six medals – one gold, four silver and a bronze.
Erald Thompson swam a personal best in his final race of his CARIFTA career, the 100m breaststroke. He finished with the silver medal in a time of 1:07.50. Aruba’s Braynsly Dirksz won with a time of 1:06.01.
“That was a good race,” he said. “It went according to strategy so I have no regrets about that. It was nice to close it off with a silver for Team Bahamas,”
The breaststroke specialist finished CARIFTA with a gold medal and two silver medals. He swam in eight races this year including preliminaries, finals and relays, which for him was not a lot.
“It was one to remember. I did not swim in as much events as usual. This was the hardest CARIFTA I have ever been to as I was older and was a team captain. I had to look out for everyone and not just for myself. That part was hard. Other than that, it was a good meet and it was fun to race again. I do not regret it,” he said.
Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson had her fair share of races that she swam in but the 200m individual medley (IM) stood out the most to her. It was a race where she won silver with a time of 2:28.78, while fellow Bahamian Keianna Moss won the gold medal in 2:28.66.
“I enjoyed the 200m IM the most because I like to swim all the strokes and I like swimming next to my teammate Moss, so that was a lot of fun,” Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson said.
She came away with one silver medal and three bronze medals.
It was a roller coaster ride for her this year, after the region not having the meet for two years, and then taking on a larger role than usual.
“It was different being a team captain because I am used to being one of the younger kids. We skipped two years and now I am a senior. It was bit of a change. I was excited to shine the light from what I knew from previous CARIFTA meets. I was glad we made our own memories in this last CARIFTA. I had a lot of fun, and the racing was fun. I am proud of what Team Bahamas did,” Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson said.
Mizell swam in two individual events and three relay events and finished with a silver medal and two bronze medals. She said the race that was the most fun for her was the 4x50m free relay in which she teamed up with Rhanishka Gibbs, Moss and Rachel Lundy, and they won a silver. They swam 1:48.39 while Jamaica won the gold with a time of 1:47.91.
Being the team captain was a lot of fun for Mizell, she said.
“It was definitely one to remember for sure,” Mizell said. “Going into it being my last CARIFTA I was eligible for, it was bittersweet to close out this chapter. I am excited to go on to bigger things. Other than that, my swims were right there where they needed to be.”
All four swimmers agreed that they will miss the camaraderie, the bonding, the energy and the laughs from being at CARIFTA. Most of all, they said they will miss their first experience at CARIFTA. The premier junior swimming meet is where a lot of them got their swimming careers started.
The quartet left some advice for the team captains for next year’s CARIFTA Championships in which The Bahamas will be chasing a fifth straight title in St. Lucia.
“Have fun because your experience qualifies you for the job.They need to remember what they learn and pass it on to the younger kids,” Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson said.
Erald Thompson said: “Enjoy it and be there for the younger ones. They will not be used to the traditions so be patient. You have to be selfless.”
Mizell said: “Embrace it and take it in while having fun. Make memories because those will last forever. Pass down traditions and always be there for the younger ones. Take time to know the younger ones.”
Jake Thompson simply said: “Motivate.”
Although it is the end of their CARIFTA swimming careers, they are hoping to represent The Bahamas, something they take pride in doing, at other regional and international meets in the future.