By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
As they prepare to travel to Kingston, Jamaica, on Thursday for the Carifta 2013 Championships, the Bahamas Swimming Federation’s major sponsor Royal Bank of Canada showed their appreciation by hosting Team Bahamas to a send-off reception.
Tuesday night’s event was highlighted by the announcement from Patrice Ritchie, the area vice president for RBC New Providence, that they will continue their support of the BSF by providing $30,000 for the 2013 National Swim Championships and the Academic All Bahamas Swimming Team Award that is slated to take place at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre in June.
“We are proud of the contributions we have made to the development of swimming over the years,” Ritchie said. “RBC has been the title sponsor of the Bahamas National Swimming Championships for three decades. During this time, we have seen many successes and it has been a pleasure to watch many bright young swimmers rise to new heights.”
Ritchie said they made the commitment to support the BSF because they believe in the athletic training of the young swimmers.
“Swimming and water polo are sports that not only exercise the body, but also require setting personal goals and working hard day in and day out in order to meet and exceed those goals,” Ritchie said. “I want to thank the Bahamas Swimming Federation for the critical role they play in teaching our youth how to be the best that they can be. We must also recognise all of the coaches, committee members, parents and friends for the unwavering support you provide those young athletes.”
During the reception, RBC once again presented all members of the team with a gift bag.
Jan Knowles, manager of public relations and communication for RBC, said they have been so pleased with their partnership with the BSF that they are more than committed to continue to support their endeavours.
BSF president Algernon Cargill said the performances from Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace as the Bahamas’ first World medallist and Allan Murray, whom she joined as the only two Olympic swimming finalists, only speaks of the strength of their junior programme and the tremendous success they have received from RBC.
He noted that the $30,000 donation will certainly go a long way in their continued development.
As for the swimming and water polo teams, which are getting ready to travel, Cargill said this is just the beginning, and with focus, dedication and commitment, as well as God’s help, a successful Carifta career can and will mean a successful CISC, CCCAN, Pan Am, Commonwealth, World and Olympic career.
“But athletes you have to believe in yourselves, accept the feedback and commitment of your coaches, and when you think you have plateaued, push on and train harder,” he said. “We won’t put any pressure on ourselves in Jamaica, but the swimmers have pledged to represent all of us, and of course their families, to the best of their abilities.”
A number of the swimmers interviewed are enthused about making the trip.
For Zoe McCarroll, who is competing in the girls 11-12 division for the second time, the goal is to return home with a gold medal or two.
“I just want to try my hardest, do my best and have fun,” said the 12-year-old. “I think we have a very good team and we will perform very well because everyone on the team has done their best so far to get on the team.”
Also entered in her division are Celia Campbell, Lily Higgs, Sian Longley, Amber Pinder and Victoria Russell.
This is Izaak Bastian’s debut at the games, but he is looking forward to making the trip as a member of the boys 11-12 division that includes Samuel Gibson, Darron Laing, Peter Morley, Joshua Roberts and Tyler Russell.
“I just want to try and bring back some medals,” he said. “It’s exciting and I’m just blessed and privileged to be a part of this team. It’s a very strong one and I know that we will all do our very best and we should bring back a lot of medals.”
Simone Sturrup is making her fourth trip to the games and is entered in the girls 13-14 division with Tremaine Allen, Albury Higgs, Keitra Lloyd and Andreas Weech.
“I just want to medal in all of my races and help the Bahamas to do very well,” she said. “I think we have a very strong team and I feel like we will all get medals. I’m exciting a lot from the younger swimmers because they are very strong. They remind me a lot of how we were when we were their ages.”
The boys 13-14 division will comprise of Miller Albury, Alexander Encinar, Jared Fritzgerald, N’Nhyn Fernader and Gershwin Greene.
This is Fritzgerald’s second trip and he’s looking forward to turning in his best performance.
“I hope to go there and swim by best,” he said. “I think we have a very good strong team and we have a chance to medal in all of the races, which should really help our chances in the overall standings.”
On the girls 15-17 team are Alaena Caerey, Leslie Campbell, Joanna Evans, Laura Morley, Doran Reed and Taryn Smith.
Carey said the team is a very good one and she feels they will all perform very well. “I want to do good myself because I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I would be rewarded with the medal,” she said. “I think the team is the best that the federation could have possibly picked, so I know that we will all do very well.”
Dustin Tynes, making his sixth appearance, is the team captain. He will also head the 15-17 division that includes Drew Bastian, Dionisio Carey, Anibal Hernandez-Valdes, Kohen Kerr, Keith Lloyd, Perez Moss and Tre Taylor.
“I’m exciting to final in all of my events and bring in a lot of points for the team,” Tynes said. “I think the team is very strong this year and so we should get at least second, but we’re going to try for first place.”
Head coach Travano McPhee said Team Bahamas is ready to compete. “Most of our swimmers are familiar with the pool in Jamaica with Carifta being there in 2010 and 2008, so they are familiar with it,” he said. “All of the hard work is done. It’s just a matter of them staying focused and doing the things that they need to do to compete on race day.
“I expect us to bring home the gold. But we know that Guadeloupe and Trinidad & Tobago always compete hard, so we just have to let them know from the first day that we are there and hopefully everything will fall into place the rest of the days.”