Another excellent year for swimming in St Vincent and the Grenadines

gal5While undoubtedly athletics made significant strides during 2015 with Kineke Alexander being this country’s lone medallist at the prestigious Pan American Games, copping bronze in the 400m, the swimming fraternity must be given appropriate kudos for another year of remarkable achievements.Swimming pool expansion
The single most remarkable achievement of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Swimming Association was the expansion of the pool at Shrewsbury House from a three to six lane facility and the extension to meet the requirement of 25m. This achievement now allows the local athletes to better prepare themselves for regional and international competitions.
The expansion of the pool was a major undertaking and required great attention to detail. There were the expected and unexpected setbacks along the way but at the end of the project the facility was completely transformed with not just the three additional lanes and full length but also covered and uncovered accommodation for patrons and expanded change rooms for participants.
To cap it all the Association procured a touch-pad electronic timing system that allows for performances to be recognised any where in the world.
The completed facility at Shrewsbury House is now comparable to those around the Caribbean and something of which we should all be very proud.
It is not often that a national sports association can muster the courage, garner the sponsorship and marshal the requisite personnel to undertake such a challenging project and it is a tribute to the organisation’s leadership that the transformation has been completed and in full use.
Of course with such an extensive expansion there must be additional costs involved. Because of the extra lanes an additional pump had to be installed and this means additional electricity costs. Water and water treatment costs have also increased. Not surprisingly therefore user fees have had to be increased.
Swimming is not a cheap sport by any means and the demands on those committed to doing well is great.
Athlete performances
Shne Joachim
Shne Joachim continued to headline swimming for this country for the better part of 2015. At the local level she has been unbeaten and unrivalled. She is significantly better than any of the female swimmers in St Vincent and the Grenadines and holds all national records in every event.
In February she competed in Ontario, Canada where she won three gold medals (50m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley) in the 14year‐old age group.
At the 30th edition of the Carifta Swimmign Championships, held in Barbados in April, Shne broke the CARIFTA 50m Breaststroke age group record (13-14years). However she had to settle for silver in the final. She was again second in the 200m Breaststroke in the same age category.
In St Lucia Shne won six gold, four silver and two bronze medals to emerge as the competition’s overall age group champion as well as the overall female sprint champion.
In Grenada last September she won every race she entered in her age group (13‐14), coming away with 11 gold medals and the overall female age group title. In the process she broke five Grenadian national age group records.
At the 24th OECS Swimming Championships in Antigua and Barbuda in November Shne captured four gold medals, two silvers and two bronze, smashing two OECS records along the way. In early December she competed at the Barbados Short Course Championships where she demolished three Barbadian national records on her way to capturing six gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
To end an awesome year Shne competed in Trinidad and Tobago, 10-13 December where she broke the longstanding Trinidad and Tobago national record in the 50m Breaststroke and captured
Unfortunately, competing at the Pan American Games and the World Championships in Russia the competition still proved too much for her.
Nikolas Sylvester
Nikolas Sylvester is the second best swimmer in this country. Unlike Shne, he has a number of challengers who keep pressing him for the top spot.
Competing at the SAC LIME Invitational in September here at home he won all 16 of the events in which he competed in his age category (13-14years).
In Barbados in March, competing at the Barbados Long Course competition he copped one gold and two silver medals.
In St Lucia in April he won eight gold, seven silver and one bronze medals, broke five of the St Lucia national records and won the age category title.
Competing at the Carifta Championships in Barbados Nikolas was a finalist in the 50m and 100m Breaststroke events.
At the Short Course Championships in Barbados he won three Silver medals in the 50m, 100m and 200m Breaststroke events in his category.
Back to St Lucia in August he set 10 Meet records on his way to capturing nine gold, five silver and one bronze medal. He won his age category and also the sprint champion title.
At the OECS Championships Nikolas won two gold, six silver and two bronze medals and set two records.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has been attending the annual OECS Swimming Championships for many years.
Earlier this year in attending the 25th OECS Swimming Championships the St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Swimming Association opted to send its largest contingent in the organisation’s history. This is a reflection of the growth of the sport and the commitment of athletes and coaches to satisfying the established standards set by the organisation.
The decision of the SVGASA proved a correct one since the team returned from Antigua and Barbuda with a significantly enhanced reputation and signalled its role and a major player in the sport in the sub region.
St Vincent and the Grenadines athletes won 36 medals (8 gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze) and established five OECS records. This is historic.
We have already revealed the outstanding performances of Shne and Nikolas. There were other successes of note. Cruz Halbich won the inaugural OECS Open Water Championships (5Km). The boys 11 to 14 age group won gold while establishing a new OECS record in the 200m Medley Relay. Kennice Greene (Girls 8 & Under) won 4 silver and one bronze medals and finished second overall in her age group.
Shane Cadogan (Boys 13 to 14) won two silvers and one bronze medal. Of note is the fact that he achieved eight new personal best times performing in this age category for the first year.
Adiah Phillips (Girls 8 & Under) won one silver and a bronze, Gerard Geowarsingh (Men’s 18 & Over) won one silver and one bronze, Kyle Dougan swimming in the same category copped one gold, Eltonte Leonard (Boys 8 & Under) wone one bronze while Jamie Joachim (Girls 8 & Under) captured one bronze medal.
In the relay events Team SVG boys age 11 to 14 (Cruz Halbich, Dillon Gooding, Shane Cadogan and Nikolas Sylvester) set a new OECS record in the 200m Medley. The same relay team also earned a silver medal in the 200m Freestyle. The Boys 10 & Under relay team (Tristan Ballah, Kenale Alleyne, Bryson George and Jayson Sandy) earned bronze in the 200m Medley relay.
The future
There is a major challenge for the SVGASA going forward.
For one thing there is only one pool of significance and that is located at Rathomill. This means that there is some expense for athletes to get to and from the facility. It is significantly easier for those athletes whose parents have their own transportation.
For those who do not have transportation and must utilize public transportation the frequency of the training required to make it to the top can prove quite costly.
Cost can serve as a deterrent to the number of individuals whoa re attracted to the sport in the first place and secondly, on sustaining the designated training regimen. It may therefore be necessary to source funding to assist those young people who may wish to get involved and have shown talent, to stay with the programme.
The fact that the international governing body for the sport, FINA, has officially accepted open water swimming is one way of getting young people who wish to swim competitively, into the sport. We are surrounded by water and once the SVGASA addresses this aspect of the sport in the future we should be seeing significant interest and performances from the athletes.
Those who are able to stay with the programme can be assured that with training regularity they have a very good opportunity to succeed. The facility is excellent and the coaching continues to develop.
For St Vincent and the Grenadines therefore the stage is set for improvement. We can, given an infusion of overseas training at the highest level for our talented athletes, be amongst the best in the region and beyond.