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$1 million short

Swimmers make plea for financial help on eve of FINA World Junior Champs

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

With only a few days to go before departure to the Féderation Internationale De Natation (FINA) World Junior Championship in Budapest, Hungary, Jamaica's swim coach Wendy Lee and her team are caught in a race against time to complete their budget for the August 20-25 event.

Despite support from Mayberry Investments, who along with the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and the Ministry of Sport offered some financial assistance, Lee and her eight-member team is still J$1 million shy of their intended target for the trip to central Europe.

The team, which is expected to depart on Thursday, has a budget of US$32,000 (aboutJ$4. 1 million).

Jamaica's presence at the event this year will be one of historic significance, as the country has never been represented by more than two swimmers at this championship and will be fielding a male and female relay team at any global meet for the first time.

Lee's team of Cameron Brown, Kyle Sinclair, Zaneta Alvaranga, Sabrina Lyn, Nathaniel Thomas, Emily MacDonald, Gabrianna Banks and Nicholas Vale, is nothing short of talent and will undoubtedly make an impact at the championships as it forms an integral part of their continued growth and development journey.

However, failure to come up with the $1 million needed could result in some setback for Lee and her team, who have also been assisted through donations via a GoFundMe page and other private sponsors.

“The support that Mayberry has given over the last 18 years towards swimming is one of the reasons the swimmers are now able to swim at the world level, but we are still in need of one million dollars and this presents a very big challenge for us as time is running out.

“So while we thank all those who have so far contributed, we are hoping that we can attract a few more sponsors to come on board and assist us in achieving that target to ensure the swimmers will have little to worry about when the time comes,” Lee told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Financial worries aside, Lee believes things are looking up for members of the team, some of whom are looking forward to competing at their third major meet of the season, following participation in the Carifta and Central American and Caribbean Swimming Association (CCCAN) championships, while MacDonald is coming off a Pan American Games debut in Lima, Peru, recently.

“Our preparation has been going very well, as the swimmers have been working really hard for this in training with their club coaches in Jamaica and Florida. To put it into context, this is the first time our local-based swimmers are training through the summer as their season usually ends at CCCAN, but they are excited and ready for the challenge,” declared Lee.

“There is no question about the talent and experience among both the males and females as they have all been consistent in their respective events at the various meets, so a few National records and finals are very much on the cards at the championship,” she noted.

While nothing is etched in stone, Lee based her hopes and expectations on the swimmers' strong will and determination to rise to the occasion when it matters most, coupled with that fact that they are highly motivated to work hard and be the best version of themselves.

“I am extremely excited that Jamaica's swimming is showing such great levels of improvement, we have been preparing for this level of swimming for several years, consistently putting in the hard work needed to compete on the world stage, so there is no question that our swimmers will shine,” Lee reasoned.

She continued: “We have already shown that our swimmers are the best in the Caribbean and we are now taking it to a new level by introducing our swimmers to the world.

“The biggest challenge they will face is jet lag and competing in a different time zone and they will be out of their comfort zone, competing in an indoor facility for the first time against athletes from around the world, who they have never faced before. But this team is focused and determined and have mental grit, so I am confident that they will rise and make Jamaica proud.”

Meanwhile, Anika Jengelley, Mayberry Investment's assistant vice-president of marketing and communications, expressed pride in the team's accomplishments.

“We've had the pleasure of watching the majority of the members of this team grow into their swimming careers and we look forward to watching them shine on the world stage. Qualifying for the World Junior Championships is no small feat and we recognise the hard work, commitment and dedication it took to accomplish it. We send our best to the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica, the coaches, the swimmers and their families in this endeavour and look forward to cheering them on in Budapest,” she shared.