By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
BAHAMAS Aquatics’ four-member team named to the FINA World Aquatics Championships are all set for their trip to Budapest, Hungary, June 18 to July 3.
Representing the Bahamas will be Zaylie- Elizabeth Thompson, Lilly Higgs, Lamar Taylor and Izaak Bastian.
• Here’s a look at the four competitors:
Thompson is an 18-year-old daughter of Dr Woodley C and Verneque Thompson. She has two older brothers, Mark- Anthony Thompson, 19, and Luke-Kennedy Thompson, 20, who also competes in swimming with the Alpha Aquatics Swim Club.
A 2021 graduate of St Andrews International School, Thompson is currently in her freshman year at Howard University where she is majoring in health science and is being coached by David Deal and Cueto Jimenez.
Thompson has represented the Bahamas at the CARIFTA Swimming, CCCAN and Caribbean Island Swimming Championships, but she will be making her debut at the World Championships.
As for her expectations, she noted that she just wants to “be exposed to a new level of the sport and be able to see what it’s like to compete at the top levels.”
When asked about her personal expectations, Thompson said she aims “to do my best in representing my country and looking for some outstanding individual swims.”
In preparation for the championships when she contests the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley (IM), Thompson said her training has been going well. “I’m confident that I will perform well and at the highest level,” she stated.
“I’m excited to see how my freshman year of training combined with the training with my local coach at home has set me up for some amazing swims.”
Higgs, 21, is the daughter of Chris and Pleasant Higgs. She also has two sisters, Albury and Stella Higgs. Having graduated from WA Hough High School in 2018, Higgs currently attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is majoring in exercise and sports science.
Coached by Mark Gangloff, Higgs has a wealth of international experience, having represented the Bahamas at the CARIFTA Games, the Jr World Championships in 2015 and 2017; the Jr Pan Pacs in 2016; the Commonwealth Games in 2018; the Pan Am Games in 2019 and the World Short Course Championships in 2021. When asked about her expectations for this year’s championships, Higgs said it’s to “gain experience competing against the best swimmers and athletes in the world.”
She added that her training for the championships has gone extremely well and she’s eager to see how well she will perform in the 50 and 100m breaststrokes.
“The transition from short course yards training to long course metres in the spring can be difficult but I’ve been able to get a lot of long course training in since then so I’m excited to compete,” she said.
Taylor, 18, is the son of Gena Culmer-Taylor and Lester Taylor. He has five siblings - Kadesha Culmer, Tami Ross, Lester Taylor Jr, Lesly Taylor and Kelly Taylor.
The Grand Bahamian, who attended Bishop Michael Eldon School before he came to New Providence to complete high school at St John’s College in 2020, is expected to graduate from college in 2024. He is studying health and human performance.
A member of the Mako Aquatics Swim Club, coached by Travano McPhee, Taylor has represented the Bahamas at both the World Short Course and Long Course Championships.
“My expectations for worlds is that everyone would drop phenomenal times and finish and high and respectful ranking in their individual events,” he said.
Although he had taken some time off to recover, Taylor said he’s been pleased with his preparation for the championships. He’s expected to compete in both the 50 and 200m freestyle races.
“Getting back into shape was stressful but as the weeks went along my times dropped drastically each week at practice,” he stated. “I am really confident in the times that I have swam in practice and feel strong and confident travelling to Budapest to compete.”
Bastian, 21, is the son of Rochelle and Darren Bastian and brother to Drew Bastian. He graduated from Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Florida in 2018 and is expected to graduate from Florida State University in 2022 with his degree in athletic training.
He is being coached by Camron Bruney.
The Barracuda Swim Club member has represented the Bahamas at the 2017 and 2019 Junior World Championships; 2016 Jr Pan Pacs; 2018 Commonwealth Games; 2021 Short Course World’s; 2018 CAC Championships; 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games; 2018 Youth Olympics; 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics.
In heading to his second World Championships, Bastian said he just wants to “go and represent as best as I can and give some guidance to the younger members of the team.”
Like Taylor, Higgs took some time off after the completion of his collegiate season, but he’s looking forward to getting back into top form for the championships when he competes in both the 50 and 100m breaststrokes.
“I had taken some time off after my collegiate season which was a good reset for me but once I got back into the pool the training has been going well,” he said.
The team, announced this week by Bahamas Aquatics’ president Algernon Cargill, will be managed by Rochelle Bastian. The team coach will be Sara Knowles and the team’s physiotherapist will be Cordero Bonamy.