By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
MAKO Aquatics Club, led by some outstanding performances from Erald Thompson II, Lamar Taylor, Isabella Munroe, Tia Isabella and Elle Therberg, won their fourth straight Bahamas Aquatics National Swim Championships over the weekend at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex.
This was the 50th anniversary celebrations for the nationals, which was held in memory of the late John Bradley, a long-time executive of the Bahamas Aquatics - the governing body for swimming in the island nation.
The four-day meet got started on Thursday and wrapped up on Sunday with Mako Aquatics accumulating a total of 2,011 points, 368 more than Grand Bahama’s YMCA WaveRunners, who came close to ruin the party with 1,643. The Barracuda Swim Club completed the top three with 1,568.
Rounding out the rest of the field in order were the Alpha Aquatics with 849 for fourth, fifth went to the Blue Waves Swim Club with 725, the Black Marlins Swim Club was sixth with 412, the Lyford Swim Club seventh with 360, the Mantas Swim & Water Polo was eighth with 326, the Lightning Aquatics got ninth with 300 and the Freeport Aquatic Club was 10th with 132.
Mako’s head coach Travano McPhee said their victory was dedicated to Bradley, who played an integral role, not only in the federation, but at the national team and club levels as well.
McPhee said he was the backbone of swimming and Mako was appreciative of all of his contributions to the sport.
With this being a special year for the nationals, which was rescheduled two weeks after its original dates to accommodate the four members who participated in the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, McPhee said the season was extended a little longer for some of the swimmers, but it didn’t deter Mako from accomplishing their goal. “The team’s performance was outstanding. From day one, we were able to come out of the gate swimming top times and putting a lot of Mako swimmers into the finals,” he said. “Mako would have won five straight if 2020 Nationals was not cancelled because of the pandemic.
“Four straight means a lot to Mako coaches, swimmers, parents and supporters. It’s never easy in any sport to win four straight. I am very proud of our swimmers and now they already have their eyes set on going for the five-peat next year.”
In leading the charge for Mako in the four-peat were Thompson III, who captured seven medals in the boys 15-17 division where he was the runner-up to the high point title behind Grand Bahamian champion Marvin Johnson of the YMCA WaveRunners, while Taylor established meet records in the boys 18-and-over division where he too was the runner-up for the high point trophy behind Mark- Anthony Thompson of Alpha Aquatics.
Isabella Munroe, the girls 8-and-under high point winner, added records in the 50m free and 50m butterfly to her ledger and Adderley and Therberg captured four and three individual gold medals respectively in the girls 13-14 division to finish behind the YMCA WaveRunners’ 1-2 punch from Grand Bahamians Zoe Williamson, Zoe and Mia Patton for the high point award.
Munroe dominated her age group division with 63 points, leaving her nearest rival Rinia Johnson of the Blue Waves Swim Club behind with 41.
Cailyn Dean, also of the Blue Waves Swim Club, finished third with 35.
Asher Bastian of the Mantas Swim & Water Polo Club-took the boys 8-and-under division with 52.
Fraser Menzies of Alpha Aquatics was second with 40 and Jeremiah Newry of the Freeport Aquatic Club trailed in third with 39.
Alissa Ferguson of the Barracuda Swim Club had a 10-point edge in winning the girls 9-10 division with 62.
Skyler Smith of the YMCA WaveRunners-got second with 52 and in third was Tiah Seymour of the Mantas Swim & Water Polo Club-with 47.
The boys 9-10 division saw Christon Joseph of the Blue Waves Swim Club emerge with 63.
Nitayo Knowles of the YMCA WaveRunners-was second with 49 and Harold Simmons of the YMCA WaveRunners was third with 46.
Grand Bahama celebrated its first title as Lelah Lewis of the YMCA WaveRunners captured the girls 11-12 division with 61. Saleste Gibson of the Barracuda Swim Club was second with 55 and Trinity Pratt of the Barracuda Swim Club got third with 51.
The boys 11-12 division saw Dijon Simmons of the Blue Waves Swim Club clinch the title with 59. Lenin Hamilton of the Mako Aquatics Club was a close second with 56 and David Singh of the Barracuda Swim Club was two points behind with 54.
In the 13-14 girls division, Zoe Williamson took the title to Grand Bahama with the YMCA WaveRunners-with 57 points. Mia Patton of the YMCA WaveRunners was second with 56 and Elle Theberge of the Mako Aquatics Club was third with 55.
Grand Bahamian Ellie Gibson of the YMCA WaveRunners sealed the deal in the boys 13-14 division with 56, followed by Caden Wells of the Black Marlins Swim Club with 53 and Tristen Hepburn, also from the YMCA WaveRunners, with 52 for third.
In another closely contested showdown, Rhanishka Gibbs of the Barracuda Swim Club won the girls 15-17 division with 57, holding off Keianna Moss of the Mako Aquatics Club with 56. Kyana Higgs of the Barracuda Swim Club was third with 50.
Another Grand Bahamian, Marvin Johnson of the YMCA WaveRunners, secured the boys 15-17 division with 59 over Jake Thompson of the Black Marlins Swim Club with 51. Erald Thompson III of the Mako Aquatics Club was third with 50.
Anya MacPhail of the Mako Aquatics Club took the girls 18-and-over crown with 56. Her team-mate Kaliyah Albury, also of the Mako Aquatics Club, was the runner up with 50 and Katelyn Cabral of the YMCA WaveRunners was third with 49.
And in the boys 18-and-over division, Mark- Anthony Thompson won the title for Alpha Aquatics with 47. Lamar Taylor of Mako Aquatics Club was the runner-up with 43 and Luke Thompson, also from Alpha Aquatics, was third with 43.
McPhee, who is now preparing to head to Birmingham, England at the end of the month as a coach on the Bahamas’ 28-member Commonwealth Games team (with seven swimmers), said the competition was extremely tough, which shows how hard the coaches have been working with their swimmers.
He also commended the Bahamas Aquatics, headed by president Algernon Cargill, for producing one of the best nationals ever. He noted that swimming in the country continues to improve and it was evident by the performances at the nationals.