The Bahamas Aquatics Federation is all set to host its 50th national swimming championships today through Sunday at the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex.
Action gets underway today at 9 a.m. and will feature the 800 and 1500 meters (m) freestyle finals, and the 50m backstroke and the 100m butterfly preliminaries. The evening session will get underway at 6 p.m.
There are 600 athletes who will be in action. Cayman Islands athletes are also expected to compete along with a team from South Florida.
The meet will be held in honor of the late John Bradley who passed away in August 2021 in Grand Bahama. He was a former athlete and later became a long-standing executive in the federation. He was instrumental in the production of the results of local meets.
President of Bahamas Aquatics Algernon Cargill said they expect a good showing.
“This is a milestone for hosting as we celebrate our 50th nationals. We are progressing, and it tells us that we are going in the right direction. Things are shaping up and the team is excited, and we feel that although we do not have a title sponsor for the meet, we will hold a successful national championships,” Cargill said.
The meet will feature local standout swimmers such as Lamar Taylor, DaVante Carey, Lilly Higgs and Izaak Bastian, just to name a few.
The championships will serve as an
official qualifier for upcoming FINA (International Swimming Federation) meets such as the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), and the 2023 World Aquatics Championships (50m).
After last year’s edition, there weren’t any spectators due to stipulations brought on by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federation is welcoming back spectators this year.
“This meet will be exciting not just because of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games and the world junior championships, it is also exciting because we have so many young people who are the future of our federation competing at nationals and at a high level. We have an outstanding team in the eight-and-under categories and they will bring the crowd to the stadium. It will one of the largest championships in years,” Cargill stated.
As COVID-19 is still around, Cargill said that the federation is taking the necessary precautions with their protocols that includes all patrons presenting a negative COVID-19 test result.
“The Bahamas Aquatics Federation will have very stringent protocols in place. Unlike some of the other public events going on, everyone who is attending the nationals must provide a COVID negative test result. We want to ensure that people will sit in the stands and have fun. The athletes are competing in a very safe environment. Everyone has to do it – from me down to the swimmers,” said Cargill.
There will also be testing on site, said Cargill.
This will be the first nationals in quite some time that will be held without the assistance of Bradley. Cargill said that he will be missed.
“Having this meet without John is very sad for us. He has done an excellent job working for the federation. I am very happy to host the 50th championship in his honor. It was difficult to get it done without him, but the team has pulled together and we feel that although he will not be there in physical presence, he will lead us in spirit and will certainly provide us the guidance we need to have a very successful meet.”
Mako Aquatics Club, with Head Coach Travano McPhee leading the charge, is going after a fourth straight title. They won the 2018, 2019 and 2021 editions. There was no nationals in 2020 due to the threat of COVID. Cargill said that he and his executives are neutral and do not have a horse in the race. Mako understandably has a target on its back as clubs such as Barracuda, the YMCA WaveRunners and Alpha Aquatics are looking to end the streak.