The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) is preparing to host its 6th Annual Invitational Swimming Championships, from October 18th-20th, at the Antigua Health and Fitness Club, near the VC Bird International Airport.
This year will see six clubs, and an expected field of over 100 competitors, vying to be crowned individual age-group high-point champions and overall club champion.
For the first time, Antigua and Barbuda will host 15 swimmers and their supporters from the Tobago YMCA Aquatic Warriors.
The Annual Invitational is an important meet on the swimming calendar as the performances are used as the foundation for selecting the swim team to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the annual OECS Swimming Championships.
This year, the OECS Championships will be held from November 8th – 10th at the Shrewsbury Aquatic Center in St Vincent.
An enthusiastic President of the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) Dr Derek Marshall, said, “The ABSF is extremely excited to host this upcoming invitational and the YMCA Aquatic Warriors from Tobago. Swimming, in Antigua and Barbuda, is a sport on the rise, and we are happy to see that other countries in the region are now recognizing the high level of competition that exists locally.
“We are expecting an exciting and extremely competitive meet, as our swimmers look to impress the Selection Committee and secure their places on the OECS team for later this year.”
Looking forward to the OECS Championships, President Marshall, stated, “We have a real shot at winning the OECS this year, if we are able to bring some of our swimmers home. Many of our older swimmers have left to study abroad but if they were willing and able to return, we could bring the OECS Championship Trophy home to Antigua and Barbuda for the first time in 29 years. We hosted the inaugural OECS Swimming Championships and it would be great to end the drought.”
While praising the Federation’s key sponsor for the OECS Championships, Premier Beverages, the President urged the private sector to get more involved, “With the help of good corporate sponsors, Antigua and Barbuda’s young swim athletes can achieve a lot. Right now, we have a fantastic opportunity to bring the Championship home but it takes a community effort to do that.”
Addressing of the growth of swimming in Antigua and Barbuda, ABSF Vice-President of Aquatic Development, Anjanette Wiltshire said that the Invitational meet is an excellent opportunity to introduce the sport of swimming to the wider community.
“Swimming is for everyone and the Invitational is a great occasion to see the competitive side of the sport.
“For the past year, the ABSF has partnered with FINA to give more kids the opportunity to learn to swim. The programme is currently in four public schools and has provided free swimming lessons to an average of 65 kids per session. We have invited all of those in the programme to attend the upcoming invitational to see swimming from a different perspective.”
The VP praised the programme’s leads, Edith Clashing and Coach Terrell Bruno, adding, “While the programme is limited in scope and funding, it is a great start and has been welcomed by the administrators and students at Villa Primary, New Winthorpes Primary, and TN Kirnon. Our programme directors have done an excellent job and we hope that this initiative will one day grow to become part of our education system’s physical education curriculum.”
VP Wiltshire shared plans for the future, saying, “The learn to swim programme is currently in an expansion phase to include open-water swimming. As a small island nation surrounded by water, we have decided to expand the program to include that discipline. Coach Elroy Daley will be the lead open-water instructor and is currently fielding interest from the students at the Villa Primary and Cedar Grove Primary.”
The ABSF 6th Annual Invitational Swimming Championships kicks-off on Friday 18th October with championship events between 6:00 PM and 8:00PM.
Saturday’s action will begin with a brief opening ceremony at 9:10am followed by championship events following at 9:30AM. The final day, Sunday, will begin at 9:30am and will be followed by an Awards and Closing Ceremony.
Admission is EC$25 for a weekend pass for adults (13yrs & over) or EC$10 per day. Children ages 5 to 12 years is only EC$5 and those under 5 years of age are free.
The ABSF also invites everyone to “Bubbles”, the Association’s annual fundraising fete, on Saturday 26th October,2019 at the Coolidge Cricket Grounds. All proceeds to benefit the National Swim Team of Antigua and Barbuda. Tickets are only $100 in advance or $125 at the door and include an all-inclusive, premium bar. Tickets are available from Antigua Health and Fitness Club, The Garden Grill, Cassada Paints & Supplies and Cutting Edge Salon.