Yesterday, 10 November 2016, marked the official start of the 26th OECS Swimming Championships at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Swimming Association’s pool at Shrewsbury House, Rathomill.
The historic nature of the event cannot be overemphasized and all Vincentians, at home and abroad, must feel justly proud of this fantastic achievement.
Indeed, we must rank the historic nature of hosting the OECS Swimming Championships to the hosting of the first international Cricket match at the newly constructed Arnos Vales Playing Field in the 1970s and the hosting of our first FIFA World Cup football match as the same venue in 1991. This also ranks with our hosting of the first Caribbean Squash Championships, the first International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Junior Tournament and later the hosting of the BNP Paribas Americas Zone Group 4 Davis Cup competition.
It is as historic as our first Caribbean Road Cycling Championships.
If there is one thing we do not do very well is archive our sporting history.
The commencement of and full hosting of the OECS Swimming Championships earns its rightful place in our sporting archives. Let us not lose the excellent opportunity this time around.
Those who once knew the state of the old, very small recreational pool that once adorned the lower part of the Shrewsbury residence would be most surprised at the tremendous transformation that has taken place.
There is now in place a 25m six-lane competition pool. The first feature that allowed this country’s swimming body to be able to bid to host the OECS Championships. In addition, a warm-up pool has been added.
There are now stands (never enough) that can accommodate patrons in comfort.
Credit must be given to the leadership provided and the numerous groupings that came forward to assist with the funding of the numerous projects that have taken place over time.
The Executive of President, Stephen Joachim, Kim Halbich – Pool and facilities management – Shrewsbury House renovations, Andre Cadogan – National Properties liason, overseas teams coordinator, Kentish James – finances, Janelle Ballah – food and beverage, Garcia Cato – General Secretary, technical officials’ training and marketing, and Louise Mitchell – Grassroots and Open Water coordinator, must receive the highest commendation for the work undertaken to get us all to this most historic point..
Partners and sponsors include FLOW, CGM Gallagher, Scotiabank, National Lottery and the SVG Olympic Committee.
The hosting of the OECS Swimming Championships 2016 has necessitated remodelling work on Shrewsbury House itself to facilitate adequate change rooms for the large number of participants here for the competition.
Of course, despite their best efforts the organisers of the event can do little about parking. There would never be enough parking close to the competition venue but given the historic nature of the event we can expect that all sorts of arrangements would be made to accommodate as many patrons as possible with parking.
This year’s OECS Swimming Championships bring together athletes from Antigua and Barbuda (34), BVI (6), Grenada (34), Martinique (29), St Lucia (34), St Maarten (5), Sint Martin (8) and host, St Vincent and the Grenadines (34).
That St Vincent and the Grenadines could host 184 of the sub region’s very best swimmers is an outstanding achievement.
It ought to be noted that in swimming, in most instances, the athletes’ families cover their participation expenses – airfares, accommodation and meals.
Activities at the pool began yesterday, continues today and ends tomorrow, Saturday 12 November. The Open Water competition where athlete sfrom Bequia are to take centrestage, is scheduled for Sunday 13 November 2016.
Some swimmers to look for in the competition:
Boys age 11-12: Jenebi Benoit (Grenada) – a Carifta medalist and the top ranked athlete in most events in this age group. Alex Joachim (SVG) will be his main competitor in that age group.
Boys 15-17: Leegan Dupros (Martinique), Felix Delron (Grenada), Stefano Mitchell (Antigua & Barbuda), all Carifta medalists. Vincentian swimmer, Nikolas Sylvester, already an Olympian, would be this country’s challenger in the age category.
Boys 13-14: Lleyton Martin (Antigua & Barbuda) – a Carifta medalist, is the one they all have to beat. In this category Vincentian Shane Cadogan – a Caribbean Islands Championships medalist, would carry our chances.
Girls 8 & Under should see Kennice Greene (SVG) and Shelby Neckles (Grenada) battling for top honours.
Girls 15-17: Our own Shhne Joachim, an Olympian, Carifta Medalist and record holder, would carry the national colours against fellow Carifta medalists, the Martiniquan duo of Jennifer Ancete and Camille Vaity.
Girls 13-14: Carifta medalist, Katie Kyle (St Lucia), should have things her own way.
There would be live streaming: http://www.multinetsolutions.com/Live_Stream_9QJH.php?no_redirect=true
The competition is expected to be very fierce and those desirous of seeing the competition must arrive early if they wish to be seated.
Our athletes are still learning the craft.
Our coaches are also on the improve as we provide them with ever-more advanced training opportunities to hone their skills.
Our administrators and technical officials are constantly being upgraded.
St Vincent and the Grenadines is a fledgling swimming nation in terms of competition so we must be careful not to raise our expectations of the athletes’ performances too high.
There are others who have been at this much longer than us and who are significantly better equipped for competition. But we have come a long way and we must encourage our athletes and all those who work with them, especially their parents.
We desire only that they give of their very best, That is satisfaction enough, at least, at this stage.
We join the clarion call, Go Vincy!!!
This call is for every Vincentian athlete involved in the competition.
It is also for every Vincentian that has been part of the extensive and professional exercise that has been the preparation.
It must be applied to all Vincentians who understand the important role of sport in bringing people together, building solidarity and unity of purpose.
Every Vincentian, regardless of sport, is anxious for this historic moment to prove beneficial to Vincentian society. It is a case of sport tourism and a gentle reminder of the immense potential of this particular industry.
Go Vincy, is about the push that we must make to locate sport tourism amongst the priority areas of national development, not some adjunct that gets mentioned every once in a while.
The hosting of this OECS Swimming Championships in 2016 is a prime example of how we must approach our development going forward, with great resolve, bringing all hands on deck and ensuring that together we can achieve success.