THE FINISH LINE: BSF taking swimming to the next level


Brent Stubbs



IT’S not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.



Nobody can say that the Bahamas Swimming Federation isn’t focused on taking the sport to the next level.

The federation has binded together and held a successful weekend for its CARIFTA Time Trials, followed by the selection of its national team for the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Bridgetown, Barbados, over the Easter holiday weekend.

Just like the trials at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex, the selection process was quite a smooth one. The federation didn’t have to deliberate for too long because all of the swimmers named to the team attained the qualifying standards.

Now the federation has the task of taking the team, headed by veteran coach Andy Knowles and led by junior sensation Joanna Evans from Grand Bahama, to Barbados to continue where they left off last year in Savaneta, Aruba, where the Bahamas won the title for the first time.

Even though there was a period when the local swimmers were denied access to the pool to train, due to the facilities being rented out to some visiting collegiate teams from the United States and Canada, the swimmers seemed to be right on target and are poised to extend their winning streak to two.

All eyes, no doubt, will be on Evans and her quest to duplicate last year’s feat of winning nine gold medals. But there are a number of other swimmers in each age group who are expecting to make a splash when they compete at the games.

Evans, preparing to enrol at the University of Texas in August on a full athletic scholarship, will be closing out her CARIFTA experience. She was named the most outstanding junior swimmer for 2014 during the announcement of Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace as the senior swimmer of the year at the federation’s inaugural awards banquet on Saturday night.

The swimming community benefitted greatly from the appearance of Vanderpool-Wallace and her teammates from SwimMac out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Not only did the six-member team show up to support Vanderpool-Wallace, but they also participated in the time trials and hosted a clinic for the local swimmers.

Everybody is probably still talking about the spectacular performance of American Olympian Ryan Lochte, who delighted the crowd Saturday morning when he swum the entire 50 metre freestyle underwater. He touched the wall in 22.81 seconds, leaving his teammates Roy Burch (23.40) and Cullen Jones (23.96) in awe just like everybody else.

It’s been a fabulous weekend for the BSF.


How difficult is it to choose between beach and grass soccer? How can you make a determination to play in a CONCACAF Championship or a FIFA World Cup Qualifier?

Players in the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) found themselves in this predicament this week as it came down to decision time, a week before the two events ran into a scheduling conflict.

While the first leg of the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia Qualifying is set to start here on Wednesday, some of the top players have opted not to compete. Instead, they will be jetting off on Thursday for El Salvador where they will represent the Bahamas at the COCACAF Beach Soccer Championship.

Is it the 10-day trip or do they feel that the Bahamas won’t have a chance to advance too deep in the World Cup Qualifier that has enticed the majority of the top local players to make the long trek to El Salvador. Assistant beach soccer team coach Stephen Bellott said it’s unfortunate that CONCACAF made the boo-boo in hosting their beach tournament so close to the World Cup Qualifier.

One would think that the World Cup Qualifier is a more prestigious event to compete in, but you really can’t fault the players if they enjoy competing on grass more. We certainly don’t have the calibre of top ranked players to select from, but I’m confident that the BFA will field two formidable teams to represent the Bahamas in both events.

We just need to come out on Wednesday and give the local players our full support at home when we take on Bermuda.


The basketball fever has taken over with the March Madness Division One collegiate tournament underway in the United States to a couple of Bahamians joining their respective teams in action, including Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners on the men’s side and Jonquel Jones and the George Washington Colonials on the women’s side.

Both players have wracked up a number of individual awards and would be the first to tell you that they could not have achieved them without the support of their teammates. They are both nominated for the Naismith College Player of the Year award, which is given by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the top men’s and women’s collegiate basketball players.

It is named in honour of the inventor of basketball (in 1891) Dr James Naismith.

What a year it would be if they both can clinch the honour.

While they compete in the United States, the New Providence Basketball Association is currently engaged in a very competitive postseason, which is an indication of the type of regular season that the league experienced. On any night during the week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, you can go to the AF Adderley Gymnasium to be entertained.

When it’s all said and done, the winners will get a chance to travel to Bimini to represent the NPBS in the national round robin tournament in April. It will be interesting to see exactly who will emerge, either one of the two former champions or one of the two younger teams in the league.

The semi-final this weekend between the defending champions Commonwealth Bank Giants and the PJ’s Stingers in one half and the other half with 2013 champions Mail Boat Cybots taking on the Patron Regulators is promised to be a dandy. May the best team win.

The Week Ahead

This weekend, the focus of attention will switch to the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations as they now get ready to host their final trials for the CARIFTA Games which opens 6pm tonight at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium and wraps up on Saturday.

By Sunday, the BAAA is expected to announce the team that will travel to St Kitts and Nevis to compete over the Easter holiday. All eyes, no doubt, will be on the selection process as BAAA president Mike Sands has reiterated that only athletes who have attained the qualifying standards in their individual events will be allowed to travel to the games as a member of the Bahamas team.

Over the past few years, the BAAA has taken a contingent of 60-70 athletes because they had the space on the chartered Bahamasair flight, but the performances have been slipping with last year’s team ending up in seventh place with just one gold medal - from the under-18 boys 4 x 100 metre relay team of Kinard Rolle, Tyler Bowe, Keanu Pennerman and Javan Martin.

The Bahamas ended up with eight silver and 10 bronze for a total of 19 medals. However, some drastic measures have to be made in order for the BAAA to maximise the best of the athletes if the Bahamas is going to regain its position behind powerhouse Jamaica, last year’s winners with 89, inclusive of 42 gold, 34 silver and 13 bronze.

Trinidad & Tobago finished second with six gold, seven silver and 12 bronze for a total of 25 and Barbados rounded out the top three with 16 medals after they collected five gold, five silver and six bronze out of the field of 25 countries that participated in the three-day meet.


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