Five-member female swim team ready for UANA Cup


Five-member female swim team ready for UANA Cup

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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Their preparation phase for the second UANA Swimming Cup is now winding down and Jamaica's swimmers are hitting game mode, as they seek to deliver top performances at the February 21-23 event in Lima, Peru.

The swimmers, who have been preparing since late last year, upped the ante over the past few weeks under the direction of their respective coaches, bracing for advanced competition in the South American nation.

It will be an all-female five-member team on show for Jamaica at Videna Aquatic Complex, as the other 13 swimmers who were ratified by the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) will not make the trip due to injury and other reasons.

Once such reason is the hefty cost to parents, as airfare alone is approximately $172,000.

Still, the team of 16-year-old Gabrianna Banks; Zaneta Alvaranga, 15; Brooke Hopkins, 14; Kokolo Foster, 13; and 12-year-old Christanya Shirley, is no doubt expected to make Jamaica proud at the highly competitive swimming event.

National Coach Gillian Millwood will lead the team set to depart the island today.

The UANA Swimming Cup is a bi-annual premier swimming event hosted by The Swimming Union of the Americas. UANA's existence dates back to the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

UANA Swimming Cup is contested across three age groups — 11-12, 13-14 and 15-17 — the same age categories as the Carifta and CCCAN Swimming Championships — and will be competed in long-course metres. The events will be timed finals.

Jamaica's participation at the inaugural staging concluded with the team registering six best times and 20 new personal records overall, two age group records, and one senior national record.

Rory Alvaranga, who coaches daughter Zaneta, has every confidence in the team's ability to perform well and attain some personal best performances at the UANA Swimming Cup.

As regards Zaneta's preparation, her father said she has been fit and healthy since coming off an injury late last year and should produce her customary strong performances.

“Zaneta has been training well, as we have been trying to make up for lost time from late last year. While she is not tapering for this event she should deliver some good performances, as she usually does, because she is determined to always outdo herself on each swim,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“I really would have liked a few more weeks for full adaptation with her new training targets, but not having an injury and just executing a technically sound race, while having fun, will bear fruits,” he added.

Shirley, who is in her final year of 11-12, will definitely be one of the standouts for Jamaica, as she has also been known to produce strong performances on the big stage.

Meanwhile, Banks is coming off an impressive outing last year and will be aiming to build on her FINA World Junior performance during which she clocked a blistering 50m freestyle personal best, becoming the fifth-fastest Jamaican female of all time on the short-course circuit.

Banks is a year-to-year national age group representative and many-time medallist at Carifta and CCCAN.

The Wendy Lee-coached Foster has improved rapidly over the years and should be another standout performer, especially in her breaststroke events.

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