The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) confirmed that it is abandoning plans to attend the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Swimming Championships scheduled to be held Easter weekend in Barbados.
The news follows the Government’s decision to withdraw the nation’s participation in the CARIFTA games, both in swimming and athletics, as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe. Citing the safety of the young athletes, Minister of Sports, Culture, National Festivals and the Arts Hon. Daryll Matthew made the announcement after discussions with Prime Minister Gaston Browne and his colleague ministers, including the Minster of Health.
In commenting on the latest development, ABSF President Dr. Derek Marshall, said, “I would first like to say congratulations to all of our swimmers for making the CARIFTA qualification standards. This is one of our largest teams to have ever qualified for the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, so we know that the sport of swimming is moving in the right direction.”
He added, “Although this is a very disappointing development, the ABSF is fully supportive of the Government’s decision, as the safety of our athletes is our top priority. Our entire team were in an advanced stage of preparation and I would like to encourage our swimmers to continue their development with a shifted focus on the upcoming CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation) games.”
The ABSF has already selected the national team for the CARIFTA Swimming Championships which included Aungelique Liddie, Sydnee Hessee and Selah Wiltshire in the Girls 11 – 12 age group, and Tivon Benjamin, Ethan Stubb-Green and Davien Barton in the boys.
In the 13 – 14 year-old age category, Hailey Derrick and Angelique Gitten qualified for the girls while Tony Goodwin was the sole boy set to compete. Moving up to the top age group category, 15 – 17 year-olds, Olivia Fuller and Arianna John made the cut for the girls while Jadon Wuilliez, Diallo Marshall and Alex Bento, were slated to represent the boys. Mixed relay teams were to be selected from the contingent based on schedules and availability while in Barbados.
The team was to be led by Head Coach Nelson Molina and supported by Assistant Head Coach Wayne Mitchell.
In speaking of the team, Coach Molina stated, “We assembled a very good team for CARIFTA and I was very excited to see how they would perform. All of the swimmers have been progressing well through the season and I expected to see some fantastic results. It is very unfortunate that we will not be able to see the results of the hard work put in by the swimmers, but we have CCCAN later in the year and we can shift our focus to preparations for that meet.”