Olympians Alex Sobers and Nicholas Neckles are among Barbados’ top swimmers anxious to make a big splash when Barbados host the Central American and Caribbean Aquatic Championship [CCCAN] on Monday, June 24, at the National Aquatic Centre.
Barbados Aquatic Sports Association president, Tony Selby, said during this morning’s press conference to launch the championship that artistic, water polo, open water and pool swimming were the main disciplines that would be contested.
“There is going to be a lot of competition in swimming. I have had a look at the side sheet, and the competition is going to be stiff. Obviously, the powerhouses of the Caribbean in Trinidad and Bahamas, they will all be here as well trying to maintain glory to the English-speaking Caribbean over the Central American countries,” Selby said.
The championship will commence Monday with artistic swimming which has a total of 42 athletes scheduled to participate between the ages of 12 to 18 under the supervision of head coach Kiera Bloom.
The various categories for artistic swimming are solos, figures, duet technical and duet free as well as the team free performances which Bloom explained would all be a higher level of competition for the Barbados team.
An estimated 500 athletes from 29 countries are expected to compete in the pool which is where most of the excitement will be generated from as participants aim to qualify for the World Championship and Pan American Games before the July 3 deadline.
Head coach for pool swimming Sharon Small explained that although they were expecting fierce competition, Barbados would be ready to put their best foot forward.
Open water swimming is scheduled for July 3 to 5 and comprises the three kilometre, five kilometre and ten kilometre categories under the guidance of head coach Samantha Clarke.
Meanwhile, coach of the Barbados water polo team Akeem Nurse revealed that the team was currently in Sunshine State Florida competing and that would serve as preparation. Water polo will take place from July 4 to 7 with only males participating in the 15 and under and 18 and under.
Among the countries competing are Guadeloupe, Martinique, Aruba, St. Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Jamaica, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Bolivia and Mexico which have a large contingent of over 80 athletes.
According to Selby, Mexico have not competed in CCCAN for several years, and they are coming to make a statement with such a large group.
Selby revealed that it would cost the local association US$250 000 to put on the event which comes under two months after Barbados hosted CARIFTA in April.
“For this particular meet, I don’t think that we are going to garner a whole lot. Our aim is not to make a loss. CCCAN is a difficult meet from the point of view that the CCCAN organising committee takes 10 per cent off all the revenue right away, right off the top, which is what we were hoping to get,” Selby said.
He explained that the BASA has to write a cheque on the conclusion of the championship and hand it over to the CCCAN committee, which is made up of representatives from all over the Caribbean and Central America.
“So, that hurts us in a big way. So, we are hoping to come out without making a loss at the end of the day. But the advantage that we have is that we don’t need to spend money on our athletes going overseas so that in itself is a plus. And what we try to do with the funds that we receive, we try to put it towards the maintenance of the facility.
Jumar Walrond along with Rebecca Lashley who is based at the University of Toronto, will captain a quality Barbados swim team that comprise Olympian Alex Sobers, Nkosi Dunwoody, Luis Sebastian Weekes and Danielle Titus. CARIFTA medalist Eric Lashley and Danielle Clarke are expected to lead the open water team.
Barbados’ most decorated swimmer Nicholas Neckles and Terrence Haynes are also expected to compete.