The Bahamas made history in CARIFTA swimming over the weekend, winning a fifth straight title in that sporting discipline at the junior regional level.
The Bahamas never trailed at the 36th CARIFTA Swimming Championships at the Sentro Deportivo Kòrsou – Pisina Enith Brigitha in Willemstad, Curaçao, securing their fifth straight title with a record 1,135 points. Placing a distant second was the Cayman Islands with 752 points. Trinidad and Tobago placed third with 534 points.
The Bahamas also had a record number of total medals with 85, inclusive of 37 gold medals, 27 silver medals and 21 bronze medals. The four-day meet wrapped up on Easter Sunday.
The team returned home on Easter Monday afternoon and was immediately transported to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for a welcome reception that was staged by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg under the patronage of Prime Minister Phillip Davis.
The swim team then went to the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium to enjoy the final session of the 50th Oaktree CARIFTA Games last night.
As for the competition in Curaçao, it was a grueling four days of competition for Team Bahamas. In the end, they dominated in the pool and came away as the champions for a historic fifth straight time and seventh time in the last eight CARIFTA swimming championships.
It’s also the first time that a nation has won five straight CARIFTA swimming titles.
Team Bahamas was hoping to lift a physical trophy, but, according to sources, the organizers forgot to order a championship trophy and will provide it in the near future.
Attendees at the meet should know The Bahamas’ national anthem by now as they heard it 37 times. The Cayman Islands hauled in 53 total medals, including 25 gold. Trinidad and Tobago was ahead of the Cayman Islands in total medals with 54, but only had 22 gold.
Assistant coach for Team Bahamas Travano McPhee dove off the diving springboard and into the pool in celebration on Sunday night. He said he was elated, having been a part of all five of the victories.
“It feels great to have been a part of these victories. It is an outstanding accomplishment by The Bahamas’ swim team by winning five straight CARIFTA titles. That has never been done,” said McPhee. “Coming into our first day, we expected to come out strong and dominate like we always do. Our second day has not been our strongest of the four days in the past, but, this year, we were able to come out and bring in the most medals and points on the second day that we have ever done in these five editions. It’s a great feeling.”
The Bahamas ended the first day with an 87-point lead, then had a 161-point lead before heading into the final day with a commanding 291-point lead. They ended the meet with a 361-point margin over the Cayman Islands.
One of the team captains, Keianna Moss, who swam in her final CARIFTA, competed well for The Bahamas, having been under the weather for most of the meet. She was happy to go out with a win.
“To win CARIFTA in my final year and as a captain was great. We did our job as captains,” said Moss. “The swimmers competed strongly in each session and we were able to get a win. They listened to me and vice versa. I was not feeling that well for most of the meet but my teammates were there for me and motivated me to compete regardless. We supported each other.”
Jack Barr, who is also one of the captains who is aging out of CARIFTA, was happy that they got the win, especially in his last year. He, too, was a bit under the weather.
“The win feels nice for my last CARIFTA, especially to bring it home for a fifth straight win,” said Barr. “I am very proud of everybody on the team including those who contributed points and medals and cheered the team on. Everyone has benefitted from everyone and, in the end, we were able to bring home the victory.”
McPhee lauded the leadership of the team captains, Barr, Moss, Marvin Johnson, and Rhanishka Gibbs who stepped up to the task, he said.
“The second-day scoring shows that we are improving in areas that we needed to improve in and the swimmers have been working,” said McPhee. “Our team captains led this team and did a great job with the 11-12 age categories. It was an excellent performance from the team all around, breaking the record for most medals.”
The team is made up entirely of swimmers who have never lost a CARIFTA meet. McPhee said that Team Bahamas has a winning culture.
“These swimmers have been around winning so long. None of them have lost at CARIFTA. They came in as winners and that is all they know – to win,” he said. “I am not going to go on a limb and say this but we are going to try and maintain this for many more years to come. Our 8-10 division is very strong and shows what our future will look like in swimming. We are looking to come back even stronger.”
The Bahamas’ dominance in the Caribbean region is something to take note of as they look to defend their title on home soil next year. It was in The Bahamas where the streak started, and they will look to keep it that way and win a sixth straight title at home.