By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Team Bahamas' path to reclaiming the CARIFTA Swimming title, in their role as hosts, got off to a quick start on the first day of competition at the Betty Kelly Kenning Aquatic Centre.
Several marquee performances on opening day of the XXXII edition of the meet were highlighted by Davante Carey's record breaking swim in the Boys 13-14 50m Backstroke.
Carey took gold and a new CARIFTA record in 27.67 secs. The Bahamas topped the medal podium and also claimed the silver medal in the race as Kevon Lockhart finished second. Virginia Stamp took bronze in the Girls 15-17 race, the third medal for the Bahamas in the event.
Team Bahamas made an immediate impact from the opening moments in the distance events.
Trent Albury won the first medal for team Bahamas with his bronze in the Boys 13-14 1500m Free. Albury finished in 18:08.75 secs, behind Romeo Boileau of Guadeloupe (16:44.60 secs) and Zachary Moore of the Cayman Islands (17:25.74 secs). Lily Higgs also took silver in the Girls 800m Free.
The 200m Breast finals produced the Bahamas' first gold medals of the meet. Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson swam to a gold medal finish in 2:54.51 secs in the Girls 11-12. In the Girls 15-17, the Higgs sisters topped the podium with Albury taking gold in 2:39.05 secs and Lily silver in 2:39.32 secs. Izaak Bastian also took gold in the Boys 15-17 event in 2:21.14 secs.
In the 100m Fly, the Bahamas collected another three medals. Nigel Forbes won silver in the Boys 11-12, while in the Boys 13-14, Ian Pinder took gold in 58.19 secs and Kevon Lockhart took bronze for his second medal of the night.
Team Bahamas closed out the night with medals in five of the six contested divisions in the 400m Free Relays.
Both the girls and boys 11-12 teams took bronze, the girls and the boys 13-14 won silver, the girls 15-17 took bronze.
Following the parade of athletes representing the 26 participating countries, the opening ceremony set the stage for the next few days of competition.
Bahamas Swimming Federation President Algernon Cargill began his address to the event by first recognising the successfully exploits of the junior national water polo teams that began the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships to begin the momentum that the swim team hopes to continue this weekend in the pool.
"Last week we closed CARIFTA Water Polo Championships and I want to again especially recognise our gold medal U16 and silver U19 boys teams. When water polo was first introduced in 2004 we were clobbered by scores of 40-1 by Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, but look at what persistence and dedication can do. We can now claim CARIFTA titles thanks to the support of Chirs Illing, Laszlo Borbley, their coaching staff athletes and parents." Cargill added, "We are delighted to open these championships for the fourth time in my presidency in the BSF and our federation owes an enormous amount of gratitude to our sponsors and volunteers for making this event the success you can see."
Eugene Poitier, the Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture made an appeal to the general public to support team Bahamas in their bid to regain the title.
"This promises to be a very exciting and fun filled four days of fierce competition," he said. "Let there be no doubt that the dominance of our swimmers will be on display at home. We welcome this opportunity since we have not been the host since 2012 when we were runners up. Since then our swimmers have progressed tremendously, physically, mentally and developed a winning attitude after winning this event in 2014, 2015 and we look forward to recapturing the championship that eluded us last year in Martinique."
Preliminaries were scheduled for Sunday morning's opening session while the finals will be contested in the session which begins at 6pm.