No matter the obstacles, Barbados Olympian Terrence Haynes had an antidote called self-belief, and it is what helped him to achieve his goals when he represented the island twice at the Olympic Games.
The entire journey of getting to the 2004 and 2008 Olympics in Athens and Beijing, all the trials and tribulations and to eventually reach the pinnacle of sporting success will forever live in Haynes’ heart.
At the age of 20 Haynes began his Olympic journey when he executed brilliantly and qualified at the last minute for the 50 freestyle. At his first outing at the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece, Haynes described it as a learning experience competing on such a prestigious sporting stage.
Four years later he once again earned his place on the Barbados Olympic team, this time it was at the Beijing Olympics where he featured in the 100m freestyle and was thankful to have achieved his Olympic dream.
“It was really a surreal feeling especially the first time I qualified. It was an emotional feeling because to reach the Olympics is the pinnacle of sporting success. So, to be identified as an Olympian is a nice and humbling experience.
“Definitely the whole journey had its ups and downs and that is what made the Olympic experience so nice. There were moments where I had to keep motivated and I think looking back the whole journey was a defining period. I loved the opening ceremony in Beijing, walking in holding the Barbados flag in the presence of thousands of people in the Stadium. Added to that you have thousands more people watching it on television, it brings you a sense of excitement, joy and pride to have that opportunity,” Haynes said.
What made his final Olympic outing in Beijing 2008 even more memorable was the fact that fellow national swimmer and three-time Olympian Bradley Ally was the flag bearer.
When one speaks about the list of outstanding Barbadian swimmers, the names Leah Simone Martindale and Nicholas Neckles are top of the list. In 1996 at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Martindale became the first black woman to reach an Olympic final in the 50m freestyle. That for Haynes created a greater will to aspire and a determination to succeed.
“Seeing Leah Martindale get to the Olympics and making a final from Barbados kind of opened the door of possibility for other persons to see it was possible. Even though you are from a small island you can still make it on the world stage. I think seeing her get that far in swimming definitely added to encourage me to just be able to know that it is possible. Along the way, Nicky Neckles, someone I looked up to, has also done a lot for the sport as well and I always chat with him and get advice on how I should train, what I should do,” he stated.
Fast forward to 2019, Haynes and fellow Barbadian Neckles, a three-time Olympian were once again in the spotlight when they both delivered gold medal performances for this country at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Masters Swimming Championship.
It was such incredible individual performances from both men that Haynes received the International Olympic Committee Award while Neckles captured the International Excellence Award during the 2019 Barbados Olympic Association Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
The current national record holder in the 50m freestyle (22.70) set in 2008, Haynes has been a proud member of Alpha Swim Club for many years. He credited his coaches Antonio Petrolanda, a native of Cuba who resides in Barbados and Brian McDonald at the University of Toronto for playing a part in his development.
A 2007 graduate of the University of Toronto where he studied mechanical engineering, Haynes is now the proud owner of Gold Field Solar company in Barbados.
Not only is Haynes an entrepreneur in a field he loves but is thankful to have chosen a path in engineering where he helps others save on their electricity bills working in the renewable energy sector.
A man of many hats, the 35-year-old Haynes also coaches swimming and formed a club years ago in the north of the island called Seaside Aquatics where he gives back his time coaching. A firm believer that every Barbadian should know how to swim, Haynes teaches swimming from a safety standpoint and also competitively.
Forever grateful to his parents Trevor and Pamela Haynes who inspired his love for swimming, Haynes, who also fishes for a living and assists with the family restaurant in St. Lucy called Catch 22, said he could not thank his father enough for introducing and teaching him how to swim.
“It came about from a safety standpoint because at the time when I was growing up my dad ran the water sport with a number of adults. So during summer, I would go to the beach with him and always be around the beach with him because he thought my sister and I should know how to swim. So, from that point of view, I really enjoyed the water. I was also very competitive,” Haynes said.
Not the only one in the family to have represented Barbados, Haynes’ sister Tamara Haynes-Patrick has competed at the Central American and Caribbean Championship. She too also gave back her time by helping out at the family’s Seaside Aquatics Club in St. Lucy.
If there is any advice Haynes would like to pass on to today’s swimmers, it would be that anything they want to achieve is not impossible. He said: “It starts with believing in yourself, finding out what it is you want to do and chip away at it. I would encourage them that if it is something they want to do, stick with it. It is not going to be easy but I would say it would be worth it.”
There are also a few things Haynes is keen on seeing the Government push when it comes to their agenda for swimming. Firstly, he wants to see swimming being adopted more on the island. Water safety is so important that Haynes is also advocating for more investment in swimming programs for the youth.
He also called for mandatory swimming programs to take place in all schools particularly those in the north of the island like Daryl Jordan Secondary, Alexandra and Alleyne. He noted that the Government should look into utilising facilities such as the Seaside Aquatics in St. Lucy and any other available facilities in the north to assist those children who might be at a disadvantage and unable to get to the National Aquatic Centre on evenings.
“Swimming needs to be mandatory in the schools. It is not only a sport, it is a life skill. Like we live on an Island, everyone should know how to swim from a safety standpoint, it is as simple as that and you never know when you may need to turn to that skill. Even in a worst-case scenario, Barbados got hit by a hurricane and some places were flooded and your life depended on being able to swim from point A to B, can you swim, can you stay above water? So, it is a survival skill.
“Secondly, I think we need to give the young generation an opportunity to showcase their ability. So, from a coaching standpoint, lifeguards can teach people how to swim, they have young coaches that are trying to offer their services, so I would say encourage the youth who are facilitating learning how to swim,” Haynes said.