Barbados’ impressive performance in home waters resulted in an overall second place finish at the 2019 Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation Championship (CCCAN) held over the past two weeks at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Wildey, St. Michael and concluded last night.
Competing in swimming (pool), open water, artistic and water polo – the four disciplines of CCCAN – Barbados accumulated 686 points for second place behind overall champions Mexico on 1690.50 points, and Trinidad and Tobago with 641 points in third position. The Panamanians tallied 630 points to take the fourth position.
Barbados collected 299 points in swimming (pool), 215 points in artistic swimming, 52 points in open water and 120 in water polo. The powerful Mexicans tallied a whopping 1,480.50 in the pool and 210 points in open water. They did not compete in artistic swimming or water polo.
Apart from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago finishing as the top two Caribbean nations, Jamaica performed creditably to take fifth position with 623 points. Among the other English-speaking Caribbean countries, Cayman Islands finished 17th on 76 points, Grenada 22nd on 39 points, St Lucia 23rd on 37 points, Antigua and Barbuda 24th with 34.50 points and St Kitts & Nevis 27th with 17 points.
The final day of competition concluded with water polo, and Barbados captured two medals overall with a silver and bronze in the Under-18 and 15 males age groups, both played against Puerto Rico.
In the Under-18 final which brought the curtains down on the 2019 CCCAN, Barbados lost 13-8 to Puerto Rico in the gold medal match while the Bahamas received the bronze.
Barbados’ head coach Ryan Forde was happy with the effort considering three of his top players Nathan James, Dave Searles Jr and Luke Kelshall all played with injuries.
Forde, a former national swimmer, also gave credit to James for the way he played despite a triceps injury. James scored in the third quarter when Barbados were down 4-6, 5-9 at halftime and fought back but were unable to get past the vigorous defence of Puerto Rico in the decisive fourth period.
“Nathan a week before CCCAN injured his triceps and everybody knows Nathan is a man that would put in five goals himself. But with players moving up in age groups and with Nathan, Dave and Luke injured, we ended up with guys that don’t usually start. Guys that were new playing more minutes, so the team had to adapt. And to have Nathan back, as you can see he is not game sharp because it is his first game this whole tournament because of the injury. But he still chipped in with the goals.
“The teams’ mentality were to stay together, play together, stay to the tactics and the real tactics were to let them shoot up top, far out with hands blocking and press everywhere else and you will win. The Latin teams, especially Colombians and Puerto Rico, they always drive to the wings and shoot. When you stop that, make them shoot from the top, we got the best goalies in the whole Caribbean and that is when we began to pump in more goals. But of course, fatigue came in, and our shots started to go towards the nets rather than in the nets as it initially did,” Forde said.
Barbados, in the pool for the eight-minute quarters, registered three goals during the third quarter.
Down 5-9 at halftime, Dave Searles scored past Puerto Rico goalkeeper Diego Alejandro Gomez Perez to end Barbados’ goal drought under the watchful eyes of referees Sheldon Bhawanie of Trinidad and Tobago and Hadi Farid of the United States of America.
Following that goal from Searles, James with an assist from midfielder Lamar Mayers produced two super goals for Barbados.
That pressured the Puerto Rican coaching team into making several substitutions as Barbados also applied strong defence with centre-back Darien Maynard and goalkeeper Abijah Beckles doing a great job. There was a glimpse of hope for the home side trailing though 8-12 heading into the fourth quarter.
However, the staunch defence by Puerto Rico with the lone goal in that final quarter was the deciding factor as Barbados despite being persistent on offence found it difficult to score past the North Americans.
The Under-15 gold medal went to the twin island republic Trinidad and Tobago with a 12-9 victory against Puerto Rico who trailed 4-1, 6-3 and 8-6 in the first three quarters. [email protected]