Cancellation of Carifta Swimming Champs brings widespread disappointmentSunday, May 31, 2020
BY SHERDON COWAN
WITH the cancellation of the Carifta Swimming Championships and Water Polo Championships putting a further dent in the Aquatic Sports of Jamaica (ASAJ) calendar, president Martin Lyn says it's back to the drawing board to plot the way forward for the 2021 season.
After initially being postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the sporting world, it was only a matter of time before the Barbados Aquatic Sports Association announced the official cancellation, and that announcement inevitably came on Wednesday.
The event, which was scheduled for April 11-15 at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Wildey for a second-straight year, was being cancelled for the first time since it started in 1985.
News of the cancellation was met with great disappointment by many swimmers and coaches around the region, as there was great optimism that the prestigious regional swimming championship might have been staged in August.
This was the last hope for regional age-group swimmers to represent their respective countries in a competitive arena, but it was not to be, and the athletes and coaches will now have to look ahead when the pandemic ceases.
“Of course the ASAJ is extremely disappointed, especially for our athletes who were still doing their training, optimistic that they would have had at least this championship to look forward to, but unfortunately those hopes were short-lived in light of the pandemic,” Lyn told the Jamaica Observer.
“So though we are disappointed, we just need to look forward to 2021 and see what happens to our Carifta team then. I know there is in fact a case where some of our top swimmers will age out of Carifta for 2021, but the good thing is that we have a well-rounded age group selection, and so we just have to put things in place and make sure we are ready with a very strong team,” he added.
But for now, Lyn pointed out that the main aim for his administration is the reopening of the National Aquatic Centre pool, which will not only stimulate income for the ASAJ but also provide some semblance of normality for swimmers.
He explained that they have so far made inroads regarding the phased reopening plans, and are now awaiting further word from the Ministry of Health as to the way forward.
“As I said before, we have sent protocols to both Independence Park Limited and the Ministry of health, who has given us some feedback, and we are just awaiting some more information from them to see how we proceed.
“Once we get the green light it will take us about three weeks to put things in place, and then we will do a phased reopening and progress into full opening from there,” Lyn shared.
“Even though it won't be the normal that we are accustomed to, once the pool is reopened, we can start back club training and as we go later in the year we can start preparing our national teams,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Carifta swimming coach, Rory Alvaranga, also expressed disappointment, but understanding that the decision was arrived at because the infectious virus still lingers.
To date, over 5.6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, with over 300,000 deaths recorded globally. Of that figure, Jamaica has 569 confirmed cases and nine deaths, with some 284 recoveries.
“The cancellation comes with a bit of disappointment, but by now everyone should understand the reason for the cancellation. The swimmers were training real hard up to the time of the sudden pool closure and have been trying to keep active in anticipation of the announcement of the new date for Carifta, since we heard it was being postponed,” Alvaranga reasoned.
“There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our athletes and their families. Clearly, the public health emergency associated with COVID-19 requires adjustment, to ensure everyone's well-being,” he added.
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