Though aquatic sports, swimming in particular, have gradually gained some traction around the region, PanAm Aquatics (PAQ) President Maureen Croes is under no illusion that all is well, which is why the sporting body is currently taking steps to invest in a brighter future for aquatics in the Americas.
One such investment includes the possibility of an Open Water series, which Croes said will not only provide an opportunity to improve participation, but also serve as a springboard to grow aquatics around the region.
Jamaica has been placed at the front of the pack to lead off what Croes is hoping will be a successful initiative and a staple event on the aquatic calendar, as the country's second city, Montego Bay the first event in the series, scheduled for March 10-12.
"PanAm Aquatics has been working to develop events in all six of the aquatic disciplines (swimming, diving, high diving, artistic swimming, water polo, open water swimming) and for Open Water, the idea is to have a series of events within the Caribbean where athletes can travel from one island to the next to compete. We looked at existing events in the region and this event in Jamaica was at the top of the list," the Aruban national told the Jamaica Observer.
Croes believes the region already boasts the main ingredients required to achieve the desired success — picturesque shores and great athletes — with the only missing variables being outstanding competition and memorable performances.
"The Americas have some of the most beautiful waters in the world, but we are not doing enough to showcase those for our Open Water community. So the overall goal is to create a solid Open Water Series in the Americas which will be attractive for Open Water Swimmers from across the world.
"In the end, providing good racing opportunities for our athletes will assist them in becoming better competitors on the World Stage and so we look forward to working together with World Aquatics, to become part of their Open Water calendar as well," she added.
With the three-day event just over two weeks away, Croes explained that preparations from a logistics standpoint are advanced to ensure a smooth transition to and from the event for athletes and officials.
The event will be staged at Doctor's Cave Beach on the Hip Strip with the Spanish Court Hotel set to serve as the games village. Events will be contested in two age categories — 14-17 and 18 and over — on a 2,500m lap course.
This means that swimmers must swim four laps for 10km and two laps for 5km, with the mixed relay, also expected to add to the excitement.
"We don't have the exact numbers yet, but we are confident that there will be participation from the region, as this event follows the event in the Cayman Islands and is followed by the event in Puerto Rico," Croes said.
"The communication and organisation between PAQ and the local organising committee in Jamaica are confident that the event will be a success. Though the aftermath of COVID is still causing difficulties for our national federations, we hope that this year's success will create excitement for the future," she ended.
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