A walk inside the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatics Center on Saturday was met with a competitive atmosphere, reminiscent of the Bahamas National Swimming Championships in June 2021. Instead, it was staging of the Alpha Aquatics Spring Invitational. There were food and drinks on sale on the outside, Junkanoo music in the stands, swimming clubs’ supporters cheering their swimmers on, coaches in action, and swimmers pushing themselves in the pool. Apart from the individual swims, there were competitive relays as well.
A torrential downpour of rain and lightning cut the meet’s first session short on Friday night but they were able to complete those events on Saturday as the weather held up for a bit. They were able to get the meet out of the way as swimmers looked to drop times and qualify for nationals, slated for July 7-10 this year.
President of the Alpha Aquatics Club, Celeste Darville, said that swimming is one of the most exciting sports being contested in the country and they are trying to get back to normal. She said they had to hype the meet up with Junkanoo music to keep the swimmers motivated.
“It was a good meet, and we were praying that the weather held up and it did,” Darville said. “It has been so hectic, and I have been up and down the deck but I have been checking in with Meet Mobile and coaches and from what I saw and heard, the swimmers were prepared and dropped times. For the most part, they are exactly where their coaches want them to be and we are happy for that.”
Isabella Munroe won all her races, dropping times in all of them. She secured 54 points to win the high point award in the 8-and-under girls division. The Mako Aquatics Club swimmer won the 100 meters (m) freestyle (1:19.46); 50m back (44.52 seconds); 50m butterfly (41.16 seconds); 50m free (35.33 seconds); 50m breast (50.93 seconds); and 200m free (3:05.24).
She finished ahead of her teammate Leniah Hamilton who finished with 31 points. The Blue Waves Swim Club’s Rinia Johnson scored 21 points to finish third.
Building off her performance at the 35th CARIFTA Championship in Barbados this year, 11-12 girls swimmer Saleste Gibson scored 54 points as she won all six of her individual races as well. The Barracuda Swim Club swimmer won the 100m free (1:04.55); 200m breast (3:20.96); 50m fly (31.38 seconds); 200m back (2:58.78); 100m back (1:15.71); and 200m free (2:23.11).
Gibson finished ahead of Lyford Cay Swim Club’s Alexia Zatarain who had the second most points for that age category with 42 points. Finishing third was the Barracuda’s Madison Gilbert who had 34 points.
Mako Aquatics’ Lenin Hamilton scored 57 points to win the 11-12 boys division. He came away with five first place finishes and two third place finishes. His teammates Trace Russell and Damari Butler were second and third respectively in that category. Russell scored 41 points and Butler had 35 points.
Alpha’s Mark-Anthony Thompson battled Barracuda’s Hodari Prince in the 15-and-over boys 200m free. Thompson, who is on summer break from college, swam 2:07.37 for the victory. Prince swam 2:09.66 to finish second while Lyford Cay’s Roman Pinder placed third with a time of 2:12.35.
Caellum Darville swam his first 800m free of the season and won it with a time of 10:19.40. The 13-14 boys swimmer from Alpha Aquatics held off Barracuda’s Tyler Adderley who clocked 10:24.92 to finish second. The Blue Waves’ Kevin Johnson place third in 10:32.52.
Leylah Knowles, who swims for Alpha Aquatics, won the 13-14 girls 800m free with a time of 10:29.23. She finished ahead of Barracuda’s Kyana Higgs who swam 10:36.96. Also swimming in that race and placing third place was Delaney Mizell who clocked 11:09.73 for Lyford Cay.
Clubs were able to observe competition for their 200m medley relay teams. It was one of the highlights of the meet. Given the intense competition, Darville said she is looking forward to nationals this year.