By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH it was announced last week that the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in Barbados have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than a dozen swimmers have attained the qualifying standards at the Alpha Aquatics Invitational.
The two-day meet was held on Friday and Saturday at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatics Centre where two of the four visiting competitors from the Turks and Caicos Islands also earned their berths in the top regional swimming championships whenever they are rescheduled.
The CARIFTA Swimming Championships was originally set for March 26 to April 6, but the president of the Barbados Amateur Swimming Association, Cheryl Lady Forde, said they were forced to postpone the championships due to the current COVID-19 situation in Barbados and, by extension, in the region.
The announcement by swimming comes on the heels of track and field, which declared a few weeks ago that the CARIFTA Track and Field competition in Bermuda has been delayed from the Easter holiday weekend to July 2-4.
At the Alpha Invitational, Rachel Lundy of Mako surpassed the CARIFTA standard in three girls’ 15-and-over events. In the 400m freestyle, she did four minutes and 53.10 seconds to surpass the standard of 4:53.10; 2:37.93 in the 200m individual medley to surpass the standard of 2:40.10 and in the 200m free in 2:16.07 as she dipped under the standard of 2:17.59.
Keianna Moss, representing Mako, did three standards as well, taking the 15-and-over 50m backstroke in 32.17 to surpass the standard of 32.88; 1:10.45 in the 100m back to surpass the mark of 1:13.17 and 2:37.94 in the 200m back to surpass the standard of 2:44.28.
Zaylie-Elizabeth Thompson of Alpha qualified in the girls’ 15-and-over 200m breast in a time of 2:59.58. The qualifying mark was 3:01.91. Jamilah Hepburn, however, won the 50m breaststroke in 36.54 over Thompson, who did 37.47. They both surpassed the standard of 37.65.
Delaney Mizell won the girls’ 15-and-over 100m breaststroke in 1:22.33, well over the standard of 1:24.24 and in the 50m free in 28.16 to surpass the standard of 28.16.
And Rhanishka Gibbs of the Barracuda Swim Club took the 13-14 100m breaststroke in 1:20.90 to surpass the standard of 1:24.92, while Kyana Higgs, the lone competitor in the 200m butterfly, surpassed the qualifying standard of 2:50 with her time of 2:47.34.
On the boys’ side, there were some outstanding qualifying performances as well.
Caleb Ferguson, representing Alpha, produced his mark in the boys’ 15-and-over 400m free in 4:26.37 to surpass the standard of 4:27.36. Ferguson also doubled up in the 100m free in 57.64 to surpass the standard of 57.78. Also, competing in the boys’ 13-14 division, Caleb Ferguson of Alpha clocked 4:35.27 to surpass the standard of 4:35.36 in the 400m free.
Mark-Anthony Thompson did the standard of 4:27.36 in the 15-and-over 400m free in a qualifying time of 4:26.37 and he did 30.75 in the 50m breaststroke to surpass the standard of 32.09.
Luke Thompson, competing unattached, won the 15-and-over 50m butterfly in 26.69, surpassing the standard of 26.99; 54.91 in the 100m free to surpass the standard of 55.09 and 1:57.80 in the 200m free to surpass the standard of 2:02.84.
In the boys’ 13-14 50m butterfly, both Tristan Ferguson (28.35) and Amauri Bonamy (28.41) surpassed the standard of 28.51. Also in the 13-14 50m free, team-mates Ayrton (33.39) and Caden Wells (33.52), both surpassed the standard of 33.98.
Anish Roy of Mako won the 11-12 200m backstroke in 2:45.93 to surpass the standard of 2:47.67.
David del Cueto, the head coach of Alpha, said the meet was a very good one. “Not only Alpha, but all of the swimmers from the other clubs swum very good,” said the Cuban native, who has been coaching here for the past year and-a-half.
“I think we had some very good times in this meet. Alpha had some very good times, but I was happy with what I saw from all of the clubs.”
del Cueto said with the coronavirus pandemic, they were forced to stage the meet without any fans in the stands. He said all of the clubs abide by the protocol rules, which helped to make the meet a success.
The meet attracted four competitors from Turks and Caicos, who were coached by Lemin Hamilton Sr, a Bahamian native who has been working there for the past 15 years, who said they brought the four swimmers here to try and attain their CARIFTA standards.
“We don’t have a certified 50m pool, so we asked to be able to compete in the meet so that they can qualify,” said Hamilton Sr, a former swimmer for the Sea Bees and Swift Swim Clubs. “I’m glad that they did because two of our boys did our standards.
“So we want to stay here hopefully until the Barracuda meet and hopefully the two boys who came close to qualifying will also get to compete so that they can qualify too.”
Lemin Hamilton Jr qualified in the 11-12 100m freestyle in his time of 1:11.04 for second place behind Mako’s Anish Roy, who won in 1:03.91. Hamilton Jr surpassed their standard of 1:13.
And in the 50m free, Hamilton Jr got third in 32.03 and Jaden Davis was sixth in 32.40 as they both went under their standard of 32.72.
The other two competitors, who are here until Februry 22, are Tajhari Williams and Mateo Gardiner. All four competitors will be training with the local clubs during their stay.