By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Fed-eration (ABSF) has named a full complement of 34 swimmers to carry the country’s flag at 27th Annual OECS Swimming Championships slated for 10-12 November in St. Lucia.
The country will be represented in the girls’ 8 and under category by Selah Wiltshire, Madison Mac Millan and Isabelle Bremner while Jermaria Jackson, Emily Gaillard and Emily Dennis will suit up in the girls’ 9-10 category.
In the girls’ 11-12 age category, Hailey Derrick, Chelsea Winter, Arianna John and Angelique Gittens have been chosen while Olivia Fuller, Gabriella Gittens, Zoe Dennis and Sally Benjamin will swim in the 13-14 category.
Bianca Mitchell (15-17) and Aliah Maginley (18 and over) rounds off the selections in the girls’ category.
The federation’s technical director, Edith Clashing, said the team is strong in many areas but added that the numbers in some categories could be better.
“In their preparations, I don’t think any of the coaches would have, what we call, tapered them, but in the next two weeks I think they will be bringing them closer to where they want be. In terms of the quality of the swimmers we have, there are very good quality inside of our age groups,” she said.
“We are a little weak in our 11-12 boys this year, however, we have representation and we are trusting that they will bring the required points that we need to stay sustained in the game. We are also weak on the 15-17 girls and we only have one girl on island able to make that, the others are off island and coming back is not an option,” she added.
In the boys’ category, Espriit Shaw, Adrian Karam and William Tranter will represent in the 8 and under category, Tivon Benjamin, Naeem DeSouza, Kalan Christopher and Ethan Stubbs will swim in the 9-10 category and Tony Goodwin, Tanner Esty and Osayaba Browne will compete in the 11-12 division.
Antigua and Barbuda will be represented by Lleyton Martin, Jadon Wuilliez, Alexander Bento and Diallo Marshall in the 13-14 category while Noah Mascoll-Gomes and Daryl Appleton will race in the 15-17 category.
J’Air Smith and Robert Watkins rounds off the selections in the 18 and over category.
Vice President of the swimming federation, Roy Bento, said the team’s selection and preparation had been hampered by the passage of recent hurricanes.
“We are actually a bit late to be honest because the event is the 10th and 11th and 12th in St. Lucia’s Rodney Bay but we had asked for a one-week extension noting that the hurricane had already pushed us back in the coaching and their development plan. The kids are off the summer break and back into the programmes and getting their muscles and tolerance all built up. It took a little longer obviously and so that [one-week extension] was granted to us so we picked the team on Tuesday evening, the federation’s executive ratified that yesterday [Wednesday],” he said.
The selected athletes will however have opportunities to sharpen their skills as a team ahead of the championships.
We have two practices slated this Saturday and next Saturday where the team will come together under the auspicies of the head coach and the two assistant coaches which Nelson Molina is the head coach and Mark Mitchell from Riptide and Wayne Mitchell from Vipers are the two assistant coaches that will also go to St. Lucia. It is a pretty big team so we need that help,” the VP said.
“We’ll have the two practices at the Athletic Club which helps to bring the team together. The coaches, they have some psychological talks and they also get into the pool. We also practice a lot of relays, that’s very important to us,” he added.
The team will be coached by Nelson Molina who will be assisted by Mark Mitchell and Wayne Mitchell.
By Neto Baptiste