By RENALDO DORSETT
SWIFT Swimming dominated the Bahamas Swimming Federation’s 2015 Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming Championships by winning the title for the fifth consecutive year at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex over the weekend.
Swift Swimming topped the standings with a total of 1992.50 points, followed by arch-rivals the Barracuda Swim Club with 1639 points, Alpha Aquatics was third with 994.50 points, Freeport Aquatics was fourth with 658.50 points and the Abaco Swim Club rounded out the top five with 543.50 points.
The remainder of the 12-club field included Team Orca (307), The Dolphin Swim Club (303), Sea Bees Swim Club (182), Blue Marlin Aquatics (120), Sea Waves Aquatic (44), Mantas Water Polo (44), and Lyford Cay (24).
Swift head coach Andy Knowles said the team was able to repeat due to another all around team effort from the coaching staff to the youngest group of developing swimmers.
“We knew that we were very weak in the younger age groups and we knew that we had to really swim hard in our 12 and older groups and that’s really what we did. In a lot of races we were able to finish with the gold, silver and bronze, we broke many records and we had a lot of races where almost all eight swimmers in the final were Swift swimmers. It’s never easy but it’s so great for the kids that we were able to do it,” he said. “We have a strong group of kids that are away to school, we keep in touch with them, when they come home they train with us and that definitely strengthens us on the top end. The CARIFTA team, many of them were from Swift Swimming and they were able to score big for us.”
Swift captured six high point trophy winners in the contested divisions, including Logan Roberts in the girls eight and under (63), Katelyn Cabral in the girls 11-12 (79), Lily Higgs in the girls 13-14 (84), Tyler Russell in the boys 13-14 (77), Albury Higgs in the girls 15 and over and Alec Sands in the boys 15 and over.
There was also a tie in the boys 11-12 between Swift’s DaVante Carey and Barracudas’ Kevon Lockhart at 79 points.
“We have a really good experienced core of coaches working together starting with myself, Andy Loveitt and Allan Murray. I feel that we really work kids hard and we really believe in discipline and hard work. We preach the endurance of the race and getting it in the kids’ heads that they have to be stronger and when you build that foundation it’s easy to excel,” Knowles said.
“Next year we have to start working hard at developing some of our younger kids coming up. The three coaches I mentioned along with my wife Nancy, Stephanie Sands and Lynne Fraino and Jane Loveitt so we really have like eight coaches to share the load. Our slogan is ‘swimmers with incredibly fine technique’ and ‘swimmers with incredibly fast times’ so as long as we hold true to these ideals and build that foundation, we can continue.”
Other high point winners included Marvin Johnson of Blue Marlin Aquatics in the boys eight and under (63), Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson of Alpha Aquatics in the girls 9-10 (86), and Nigel Forbes of Freeport Aquatics in the boys 9-10 (90).
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Vereance Burrows and Ariel Weech were among the elite swimmers who came home and performed exceptionally well. They were joined by current stars like Joanna Evans and Dustin Tynes.
This year, 12 swim clubs and 500 athletes, including international swimmers, are scheduled to participate as they are all seeking to qualify for the World Championships and the Rio Olympics.
Despite their winning ways, Knowles said there must be improvements made to the event to improve the sport and raise the standard across the board.
“I think we have a lot of discussion to do. Nationals to me, and I think a lot of the coaches are on the same page as me, it should be a special event for the elite swimmers in the country and you should be a special swimmer to be able to make it,” Knowles said.
“Right now the timing standards are a little too soft. Throughout the year at big meets we have about 250 top swimmers, but we have 500 swimmers at nationals, it should be the other way around. We need to look at how to make the standards tougher. Every time we make the standards tougher we swim better. These kids step up and they are able to do it. We will get more quality swims as a result of it.”