FIVE STRAIGHT: Mako Aquatic Swim Club are national champions

Members of the Mako Aquatic Swim Club celebrating. 
Photo: Melinda Moss/Bahamas Aquatics

Members of the Mako Aquatic Swim Club celebrating. Photo: Melinda Moss/Bahamas Aquatics


Senior Sports Reporter


FOR the fifth straight consecutive year, the Mako Aquatic Swim Club hoisted the Bahamas Aquatics’ National Swimming Championship trophy in the air as national champions.

In similar fashion to Team Bahamas winning its fifth straight CARIFTA Swimming Championships over the Easter holiday weekend, Mako also had a dominating performance as they wrapped up the four-day meet on Father’s Day on Sunday at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex.

Mako accumulated a total of 2,698 points to out-distance their nearest rivals, Barracuda Swim Club, who had 1,569. Not too far behind in third place was the Alpha Aquatics Club with 1,524.50.

The remaining teams in order of finish were the Blue Waves Swim Club with 965.50 for fourth; Black Marlins Swim Club with 608 fir fifth; Lyford Swim Club with 394 for sixth, Lightning Aquatics with 300 for seventh; Mantas Swim & Water Polo Club with 240 for eighth; Freeport Aquatics with 158 for ninth and the Sea Waves Aquatic Team with nine points for 10th place.

In the medal count, Mako collected a total of 87 gold, 64 silver and 71 bronze for a total of 222 medals to dominate the chart. The Barracuda Swim Club was again in second with 46 gold, 43 silver, 34 bronze for 123 medals. Alpha Aquatics completed the top three with 45 gold, 37 silver and 31 bronze for 113.

The Blue Waves were fourth with 15 gold, 25 silver and 23 bronze of their total of 63; the Black Marlins Swim Club was fifth with six gold, 17 silver and 21 bronze for their total of 44. Lightning Aquatics also had six gold, one silver and a bronze for eight medals. Lyford Swim Club had three gold, 14 silver and nine bronze for 26; Freeport Aquatic had a gold, five silver and three bronze for nine and Mantas Swim and Water Polo Club had four silver and four bronze for eight.

All season long, Mako’s head coach Travano McPhee said they were working on going for the five-peat and his swimmers worked extremely hard to achieve the feat.

“This one feels good. Just like the CARIFTA team, our goal started from last year. We wanted to win five straight. That was the goal of our coaches, the team captains, all the swimmers and their parents. We were able to pull it off,” McPhee said.

However, he doesn’t want his team to rest on their laurels, as he say they want to continue to match the performances of the CARIFTA team when they go for their sixth straight here at the Betty Kelly Kenning Swim Complex next April.

“We’re going to celebrate this one, but we’re also going to start preparing right away for the sixth straight,” said McPhee, who was pleased with their performances across the board.

“Our relay teams dominated from the eight-and-under to our 18-and-over. Everyone came out and performed,” he said. “We did what we planned to do from day one. I’m just happy with the team’s performance.”

Marvin Johnson Jr, who came home from boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, competed in seven individual events and he won them all in the 50, 100, 400 and 499 metres freestyle; 50 and 200m butterflies and the 200m backstroke.

The 17-year-old Johnson also helped his Mako team to three victories in the relays and second in two others.

“It was a pretty good performance. I was happy with it. Coming back from school, and back in the home crowd environment, it was nice to put on a show in what could be a preview for CARIFTA next year,” Johnson said.

“So it was great to put on the show for the crowd, but the competition was really stiff. We didn’t get to win that by just having some average guys. All of the guys came together and made things happen.”

Taylen Nicolls, who competes in the girls 9-10 division, proved that even though she attended Elva Hilton Primary School where she will graduate from this year, she has the ability to compete just as well as her peers.

But in addition to swimming for Mako, the 11-year-old still find the time to be a speaker, dancer and actress. She noted that she spends about one hour in each segment to be able to perform at such a high level.

“My performance was extremely great, especially how we started training for swimming since September,” Nicolls pointed out. “I feel very excited that I got the high point trophy again because everybody step into pool want it just as bad as I do.”

Nicolls won all of her individual events she competed in, especially for the 200m freestyle where she placed second. She noted that her competition pushed her to the limit.

Saleste Gibson, who competed in the 11-12 girls division for the Barracuda Swim Club, continued a winning tradition that was left behind by her siblings, Selina and Samuel Gibson Jr, who are both in college, but are done with swimming.

The 12-year-old participated in seven individual events and won seven gold medals.

“I think I did a very good job in my opinion,” she said. “I think it was very good to come here and compete with everyone from The Bahamas.

“It was a really good time for me to show off what I could do. My brother and sister have been supporting me one hundred percent and I know I could ask for advice because they were both swimmers.”

Bahamas Aquatics president Ashley Cargill said they couldn’t ask for a much better showing than what they got for this year’s nationals with a number of national records broken.

Jaylah Threadgill, of Lyford Swim Club, broke the only individual open record in the girls 11-12 50m breaststroke in a time of 35.83, while there were a few team record-breaking performances.

Threadgill’s time also posted a new national record as she joined several other individual record breakers. Among the list were Rhanishka Gibbs of the Barracuda in the girls 15-17 50m breaststroke in 32.93 and 100m butterfly in 1:05.05; David Singh, also of the Barracuda, in the boys 11-12 200m IM in 2:27.46; Lamar Taylor of Mako Aquatic in the boys 18-and-over 50m backstroke in 25.54 and 100m backstroke in 56.47; Zoe Williamson from Mako as well in the girls 13-14 100m butterfly in 1:06.57; Keianna Moss of Mako in the girls 15-17 100m butterfly in 1:05.29; Cailyn Dean of the Blue Waves in the girls 8-and-under 50m butterfly in 38.87 and Saleste Gibson in the girls 11-12 50m butterfly in 29.61.

There were also several relay records broken.

“I think the swimmers came out and they performed exceptionally well,” Cargill said. “We were very pleased with the competition. Even though Mako won by a large margin, there were a lot of impressive performances from the other clubs.”

In a humanitarian effort, Bahamas Aquatics supported Shawn Neely Jr with his battle with cancer by donating $1,035 they collected from the gate and Bahamas Aquatics will also be making a contribution to his cause.

His father, Shawn Neely Sr, thanked the swimming community, especially some of the competitors he swam with and against and even some of Shawn Jr’s peers for providing a helping hand.

Neely Sr, who is the head coach for the Lightning Aquatics, said his son is in high spirits and was appreciative of the support he got from everybody. Neely Sr said they are working on getting him through his treatment so that he can be ready to come out and compete next year.


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