By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
After watching the team perform two weeks ago at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, Bahamas Swimming Federation president Algernon Cargill is eager to see how well the Bahamian swimmers will perform at the FINA World Swimming Championships next week in Kazan, Russia.
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, fresh off her Pan Am record-breaking performance with her two medals, will lead the team that will include Joanna Evans, Ariel Weech, Dustin Tynes and Vereance ‘Elvis’ Burrows, who didn’t make the trip to Toronto with the other swimmers.
“Arianna will lead the team at the World Championships in Russia,” Cargill said. “It’s one of our largest teams, but the swimmers will be competing in reduced events because it’s important for them to do well at these championships, primarily because they will be competing for places in Rio (2016 Olympic Games).
“We’ve had one setback in Joanna Evans, who is not there yet. She is travelling on Saturday and will get there in time just to compete in the 800m freestyle. She will end up missing the 400m free. She already has the Olympic B qualifying times in both events. Arianna will be leading the team and she will be concentrating only on the 50m free and the 50m butterfly because she wants to do very well in those events.”
Coming off a slight injury that had her hospitalised for a few days after she competed in Toronto, Weech will be competing in the 100m free and 50m backstroke. According to Cargill, Weech has been fully cleared by her doctor to compete after she was treated for some internal injuries.
Tynes, who has already qualified with the B standards for the Olympics, will be looking to improve his times in the 50 and 100m breastrokes. Burrows, the other member of the team, will be out to make his presence felt in both the 50m free and 50m fly after he missed out on the opportunity to compete with the other swimmers at Pan Am.
“Overall, we’re very excited about the team and we are assured that the team will continue to represent the Bahamas at a very high level in Russia next week,” Cargill said. “Obviously, Arianna will carry the team per say and we anticipate her making the final in her two events. She’s been able to swim in the top eight in these events throughout the entire season.
“She’s a very hard worker and she believes in herself. She believes she can further improve her times and medal at the World Championships. That’s her goal. To medal at the chamionships. We also expect for Joanna to place in the top 16 in the 800m freestyle and Dustin also in his events. But for Ariel and Elvis, it’s going to be a very difficult meet for them because they are competing against the very best in the world and they obviously have more work to do to get to Rio next year.”
The team, managed by John Bradley, will be coached by Lionel Mireault from Auburn and Bert Bell from Grand Bahama.
The World Swimming Championships is already underway with diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and the open water swimming. The swimming competition, however, will get started on Sunday in the Kazan Arena Stadium and will wrap up on Sunday, August 9.
Burrows will be the first competitor in the pool when he contests the heats of the 50m fly on Sunday. He will be followed by Tynes in the 100m breast the same day. The women’s 400m free is also on the first day, but Evans won’t get there in time to compete.
Vanderpool-Wallace said she’s confident that the team will do very well, coming off their performances at Pan Am where they were all motivated.
As for her own expectations, Vanderpool-Wallace said she’s prepared for the challenge ahead of her.
“I’m going into Worlds just want to swim fast,” she said. “I don’t have any expectations on myself other than going in and having fun with my teammates.
“Worlds is the top tier of competition outside of the Olympics, so yes this will be my most challenging competition. But it doesn’t matter, I am just going to do what I can and hopefully that is enough.”