Every year, senior swimmers on The Bahamas’ team at the CARIFTA Swimming Championships look to help lead their team to victory. This year is no different as Keianna Moss, Jack Barr, Rhanishka Gibbs and Marvin Johnson were selected as captains for this year’s championship in Willemstad, Curaçao.
For Moss who has been with the team since 2018, she said that it is an amazing feeling to be named captain.
“I always looked up to the captains when I was younger. I always wanted to be a captain so now that I was selected for the role, it comes with a lot of responsibilities. I love having the team look up to me and leading the team,” Moss said.
Like Moss, Barr is in the last year of CARIFTA eligibility for him. He and Gibbs have been practicing with the team for about a month. He knows the importance of this year.
“It feels nice to be able to bring the team closer together and to organize everything and to ensure that everyone is putting in the work we need to ensure that we bring home the fifth victory. I make sure that everyone stays organized and in line. I also run stretches sometimes,” he said.
Gibbs and Johnson have one more year competing for The Bahamas at CARIFTA. Johnson has been with the team since 2018 and it has been a goal of his to be named team captain.
“When I was younger, I looked up to those older guys,” Johnson said. “Just the way that I knew they experienced it before me and the encouraging words they gave me to keep me focused and always encouraged me, I want to do to others. One of my biggest goals and what I want to do is to allow these younger guys to see me as someone they can come to and talk to. Let them know it’s okay to have nerves. I have been there before and the best way to get through it is to be with this team. We are a family, and everyone got each other’s back. We just have to be able to put all the training that we have done this year in the forefront and represent Team Bahamas.”
The team is attempting to bag its fifth straight CARIFTA title – a tough task. Gibbs was excited when she found out that she was selected as a team captain.
“We have been giving the others a lot of confidence and making sure that they are okay. We want to see them get ready to swim fast, especially the newcomers. It is a new experience for them, so we just want to make sure that they feel as comfortable as possible,” Gibbs said.
She does not feel any pressure as captain because she knows that the team is a very strong and fast one. The 16-year-old Queen’s College student-athlete knows that the team is going to do well.
Johnson, who attends McCallie School in Chatanooga, Tennessee, is one of the fastest freestyle swimmers at CARIFTA this year. He wants the younger ones to have a voice on the team too.
“In the group chats we have been having funny conversations and allowed persons to express themselves. We want them to speak and have fun and that it will get better over the course of time. I have gotten to know the younger guys and girls and allow them to not see me as just a big fast swimmer or big captain but to see me as someone who is also a Bahamian and go and represent with them,” Johnson said.
Moss, who just finished her freshman year swimming for McKendree University, has been working with the cheers, she said.
“The team is so new and fresh, a lot do not know the cheers. The whole team is here so we can now get real cheers going and get everyone to know the cheers,” she said.
Gibbs said that they have been working on the cheers and have a new one that they decided on, on the plane ride to Curaçao.
For most, if not all, of the swimmers who are not in the 15-17 age group, they have never swam at such a high level. Moss has represented The Bahamas at other high level international meets, and knows what it takes to compete at this level.
“For the younger ones, the biggest meet they competed in was The Bahamas Nationals and CARIFTA is more serious than nationals because they are representing their country. That is what I compare it to so they can know how it feels. They need to reset, hydrate and warm down properly,” Moss said.
The Bahamas is set to host the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in 2024 when it will be Johnson’s final CARIFTA. He wants the five-peat this year and then try and go for a sixth straight title at home.
“It would mean everything. Being on the team when we won over the last few years has been an amazing experience and now to be one of the guys who is leading the charge is going to be a dream. I want to assert that dominance over the rest of the Caribbean in swimming. I want to end it off with a bang in front of the home crowd,” he said.
The team is currently in Willemstad, Curaçao, and had their last practice yesterday. The first day of competition is today. Action gets underway this morning.