Discovery Bay in Jamaica was the scene of the just concluded inaugural CARIFTA Open Water Swimming Championships and making history for Barbados were five swimmers who opted to swim five kilometres in open waters.
CARIFTA pool swimmers Jonathan Manning, Kai Proverbs and Kent Mullins who represented Barbados at previous CARIFTA Swimming Championships took to the open waters on this occasion. First timer to CARIFTA, Nicholas Hall, and Vanessa Keany, who made her debut in the open water at CISC 2012 in Aruba, held their own against some stiff competition from Aruba, Guadeloupe, Trinidad & Tobago and the Cayman Islands.
The Barbados team maintained good pace and were placed in the top 10 in their respective age groups. The inaugural event got off to a good start and was contested by 52 male and female swimmers in two age groups.†Proverbs, a veteran breaststroker in the pool, placed fourth in the 13-14 age group and proved that her freestyle in the open water was equally capable. Hall held a similar placing in the boys’ 13-14 with team-mate Kent Mullins not far behind placing seventh. Both gave good account of themselves. Keany and Manning took part in the very competitive 15-17 age group finishing fifth and seventh respectively fending off stiff challenges from the Bermudans and Jamaicans.
Open water swimming is well suited to the Caribbean. The discipline knows no boundaries as it has no assistance from the walls of the pools where one can touch the wall or push off it. Instead the athletes are placed in an open body of water with a course in which they have to swim around, and in this case it was a 5k swimming race.†The event started at Puerto Seco beach and with a circuit of approximately one kilometre in length around which the swimmers swam five times.
The swimmers in preparation for this event trained frequently in the idyllic waters of Carlisle Bay with a few sessions conducted at the Aquatic Centre.
The team, which was managed by Pamela Mullins and coached by Enrico McConney, was met at the airport by the Minister of Sport, Stephen Lashley and chairman of the National Sports Council, Seibert Straughan on their return to Barbados.††