BAHAMAS Aquatics has won its fourth consecutive title, its eighth in nine years - and has received confirmation The Bahamas will host the 2024 edition of the CARIFTA championships. As the 35th edition of the four days of competition came to a close last night, Team Bahamas accumulated a total of 975 points to out-distance second place finisher Jamaica, reversing the order from the CARIFTA track and field meet on Monday night.
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Just before wrapping up their fourth consecutive title and eighth in nine years, Bahamas Aquatics got the confirmation that the Bahamas has received the bid to host the 2024 edition of the championships.
The decision was made yesterday at the Congress meeting that took place on the final day of swimming competition at the Barbados Aquatic Center in Wildey, Barbados, Bahamas Aquatics’ president Algernon Cargill confirmed after the meeting.
As the 35th edition of the four days of competition came to a close last night, Team Bahamas accumulated a total of 975 points to out-distance second place finisher Jamaica, who collected 833.50, reversing the order from the CARIFTA track and field meet on Monday night.
“The Cayman Islands came in third in the points standings that determined the outcome of the championships with 754, host Barbados occupied fourth with 519 and Trinidad & Tobago rounded out the top five with 355.
The Bahamas also earned the most medals with 65, including 14 gold, 22 silver and 29 bronze, while the Cayman Islands had the most gold with 25 to go along with their 23 silver and nine bronze for a total of 57.
Barbados had 22 gold, seven silver and 12 bronze for their total of 41 and Jamaica ended up with 17 gold, 25 silver and 22 bronze to trail the Bahamas by one, 64, in the total medal count, a far cry from the track tally in Jamaica.
Head coach Travano McPhee, who served in that capacity on the previous three championship teams, said it was a fantastic feat for Team Bahamas, considering that they had a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Very proud of these kids. Four straight is not easy,” said McPhee, who was assisted by Grand Bahama’s Andy Loveitt and Camron Bruney. “We came out on the first day and with a young team, they had to get the jitters out and get adapted to the crowd.
“Some of the younger swimmers showed some nerves, but they came back on the second day and they performed very well. We had a lot more medals, a lot more finals and that carried over to the next two days. But four straight is not easy. I’m very proud of this team. No other team or federation has ever done this.”
McPhee said he was proud of their dominance in the region and they’re hoping to build on this with five straight next year before bringing the championship on home soil in 2024 when the Bahamian public will really get to see what the swimmers are made of. “It would be good for the swimmers to swim at home in 2024 and get the home crowd and the supporters to cheer them on so they can turn in some very fast times,” he said.
“On this team, we have some swimmers who have never lost at CARIFTA before, so it says a lot about the federation, what parents are doing and what the coaches are doing, what the sponsors are doing and what the swimmers are doing.”
In congratulating the Bajan Swimming Federation in putting on a very successful meet without any COVID-19 incident, McPhee said the team could not have done it without the support of the parents and spectators, who travelled with the team on the Bahamasair chartered flight.
Looking at the performances from Team Bahamas, McPhee said swimmers like Caden Wells with a clean sweep in all of his breaststroke events, Marvin Johnson in the 50m free, just missing the CARIFTA record that is held by Izaak Bastian, Tia-Isabella Adderley won two medals in the backstroke and Adderley in the breaststroke and the 13-14 boys sweeping all of the relays. “Hats off to these swimmers. They did a tremendous job,” McPhee said.
St Lucia, which is in the process of building a new pool, is expected to host the next championships in 2023.
If they opt out, Curacao is the next choice with Aruba as the second alternate.
Whatever happens next year, McPhee said Bahamas Aquatics will be looking to build on their quest to stage a successful championship in 2024, hoping for their sixth straight title. The tram, managed by Andrea Strapp with Courtney Barr as the female chaperone and Patrick Ferguson as the male chaperone, is scheduled to return home around 3:45pm today with the team trophy and their huge medal haul.
Keith Bell, the Member of Parliament for Carmichael and the Minister of Labour and Immigration, accompanied the team as the government representative.