Champing at the bit!


Champing at the bit!

Region's young swimmers react to COVID-19-induced setback

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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The inevitable postponement and cancellation of this year's Goodwill Games and the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation (CCCAN) Championships have left a number of young swimmers around the region disappointed as they eagerly await a return to the pool.

Those meets became casualties of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) pandemic, a mere month after the Carifta Swimming Championships, initially scheduled for April 11-14 in Barbados, was postponed until further notice.

Among the many athletes who were looking forward to competing in these events are Jamaica's Kyle Sinclair, who was anticipating closing his Carifta and CCCAN career on high, as well as national team debutant Kayla Kerr of Y-Speedos Swim Club.

Jillian Crooks of Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tobago's Nikoli Blackman were also among those rounding into top form for the respective meets.

Despite being unable to hit the pool, Sinclair, a 15-17 agegroup representative, pointed out that he is still trying to maintain some semblance of form.

“Unfortunately, Carifta has been postponed and CCCAN has been cancelled. I was really looking forward to those two meets, so I am a little disappointed and sad as this would have been my last year at CCCAN and Carifta, but I am trying to remain positive and will continue working until a new date is decided on for Carifta.

“I've been running and engaging in online classes; just the norm as we are expected to and I'm just looking forward to finding a pool to go swimming to keep my feel for the water up,” Sinclair told the Jamaica Observer.

For Kerr, the postponement of Carifta in particular, represents an opportunity to continue preparing for her much-anticipated debut in the 11-12 age group.

“I'm a little saddened that it was postponed, but mostly relieved because now I have more time to practise and the more I practise, the better chance I'll have to do well at Carifta,” Kerr noted.

Crooks, whose parents are Jamaicans, urged her counterparts to remain positive in this period of uncertainty.

“I am disappointed with the postponement of Carifta but I know it was for a good reason and so I am still looking forward to the meet whenever they decide to stage it later this year. I know the CCCAN cancellation was also for the same reason and so we just have to look ahead to next year's staging, so I just want to encourage my fellow swimmers to stay positive,” Crooks told the Observer.

Like Crooks and the others, Blackman, who is in his final year in the 13-14 age group at Carifta, said he is still focused on the task at hand.

“I was accustomed to our daily routine of going to the pool and gym, but that is no more so the adjustment is on. I try to stay focused on the task at hand by doing dry land training at home which my coach sent me. I was disappointed about the postponement of the Goodwill Games and the cancellation of CCCAN, but, like I said, I will remain focused,” Blackman shared.

The CCCAN Championships was set to be hosted in Nassau, in The Bahamas, and the Goodwill Games in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago.

However, CCCAN was in the process of tendering a request for a new host following the outbreak of the virus in The Bahamas and Dominican Republic, which was expected to take up the mantle, declined.

In a letter dated April 2, CCCAN's President Felix Calderon pointed to that and the closure of pools around the region as two of the factors that resulted in the meet's cancellation.

“Even if the pools are open all athletes would not have an equal playing field and sport is based on equality for all.

“For training to benefit athletes their mental state should be free of all doubt and training for an event with the likelihood of it being cancelled would not benefit this effort,” Calderon said in his letter to the heads of federations.

Meanwhile, Gregory Mitchell, secretary of Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ASATT), said a unanimous decision was arrived at by ASATT to postpone the Goodwill Games until 2021.

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