By RENALDO DORSETT
THE Bahamas hopes to regain its CARIFTA Swimming title as the country hosts the top junior swimmers from around the region this weekend.
The 2017 BTC CARIFTA Swim Championships take place April 15-18 at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre.
The Bahamas will field a 36-member team for the event, which will feature hundreds of athletes representing 26 countries.
The swimming competition will start at 9am on Saturday (April 15) and continue with the evening session 6pm daily at the aforementioned venue.
The open water segment, covering a 5-kilometre course, will be held on Long Wharf Beach at 8am on Wednesday, April 19.
Travano McPhee will coach the team along with Jorge Rodriquez.
During team preparation last month, McPhee told The Tribune that a well-balanced squad should performed inspired before the home crowd.
“The strength all across the board will see us filling all of the gaps that we had last year,” he said. “This is definitely a stronger team than we had last year.”
McPhee highlighted the Higgs sisters (Albury and Lilly), who will lead the girls’ 15-17, Izaak Bastian and Alec Sands in the boys’ division, Rachel Lundy and Nigel Forbes in the girls and boys 11-12 and Anya MacPhail and DeVante Carey in the 13-14 categories.
The Bahamas has been one of the top teams at the CARIFTA level with consistent finishes over the past few editions.
At the 2016 event in Fort-de-France, Martinique, the Bahamas finished in second place, just 21.5 points behind the winners.
Guadeloupe rebounded from a fifth place finish in 2015 to win this year’s meet with 796 points while the Bahamas was second with 774.5 points. Host country Martinique was third with 586.5 points, Barbados was fourth with 538.5 points and Trinidad and Tobago finished fifth with 437.5 points.
The last time the Bahamas hosted was in 2012 when they finished second with 657 points and 49 medals.
At the 2013 meet in Kingston, Jamaica, the Bahamas finished fifth in the team scoring with 509 points and was sixth in the medal count with 29, including eight gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze.
In 2014, the Bahamas topped the standings for the first time in Savaneta, Aruba.
The 36-member team finished with a total of 736.50 points and 55 medals, including 23 gold, 22 silver and 10 bronze.
In 2015, the Bahamas won the meet again with a total of 756.50 points, more than 100 points ahead of the host team Barbados, who was second with 642.50 points.
Trinidad and Tobago finished third with 494.50 points, Guadeloupe was fourth with 478 points, while Jamaica rounded out the top five with 456 points.
The Bahamas claimed 54 medals en route to the win, including 29 gold, 17 silver and eight bronze.
CARIFTA swimming began as its own event in 1989 organised by the Amateur Swimming Associations.
Due to the lack of 50 metre facilities in the region, CARIFTA ranged from a meet in yards to short course to 50 metre in the early beginnings.
During this time a decision was made that the meet should be alternated between countries in the north and south of the Caribbean. In 1985 the inaugural meet was held in the 20-yard pool at the Ursuline Convent in Barbados. The Championship was broadened to include disciplines of water polo and synchronised swimming beginning in 2002. Open water swimming was added 2014.