Jamaican swimmers ready for CCCAN diveThursday, June 24, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
After weeks of preparation and gauging their state of readiness at the Aquatic Sports of Jamaica (ASAJ) Time Trials, a number of Jamaica's rising stars will get their first real test of competition in well over a year when they dive into action at the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) championships today.
Though the nine-member team represents one of Jamaica's smallest to a regional championship in recent times, partly due to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, expectations are still high that the young sensations will give good accounts of themselves in Puerto Rico.
The five-day championships got under way yesterday, but no Jamaican was due to take part in the 13 and over 800-metre, 1,500m freestyles, or the 200m mixed relays.
That allowed Zack-Andre Johnson, who attends Jamaica College, and Kaheem Lozer, who attends Wolmer's Boys', to take care of some academic work before getting down to business in the pool.
There is no doubt that their physical and mental toughness will be tested, but the likes of Zaviya Cameron, Johnson, Waldon McIntosh, Christanya Shirley, Gianni Francis, Leanna Wainwright, Nelson Denny, Kito Campbell, and Kaheem Lozer have all promised much, and should deliver at least some personal best times, which could then translate into podium finishes.
Interestingly, CCCAN is listed as a FINA-sanctioned Olympic qualifier for countries seeking last-minute qualifying times, but will also afford Jamaica's junior athletes another opportunity to secure or improve their Junior Pan Am times.
This as Pan Am Sports Organization recently postponed the inaugural staging of the Junior Pan Am Games from September to November 25, and as such, has extended the qualification period until August 22.
Sidrell Williams was scheduled to be Jamaica's lone competitor in the 18 and over age group, but did not travel with the team.
Still, Wainwright, who is fresh off of her national age group record-breaking swim of 1:07.69 in the 100m backstroke, pointed out that there is no need for complacency after lowering the old mark of 1:08.19 set by Kendese Nangle in 2008.
Instead, the final year 13-14 swimmer, who says her small training group in Montego Bay does not offer her the adrenaline rush she requires, but she is intent on bettering the feat on an even bigger stage.
“To me the national record just means that I am the fastest girl in my age group in Jamaica, but I know that swimmers here are also on top of their game in their own way, and so I refuse to let my guard down or let complacency creep in. I think my level of confidence is exactly where it needs to be in order for me to go in and be successful,” Wainwright told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“So I am extremely excited that we are back to competing on the international stage because there are a lot more athletes with different levels of experience to offer more competition and push me to clock some great times,” she added.
Kaizen Swim Club's Lozer is also aiming to build on his performances from the Time Trials.
“The Time Trials have helped me to build up some amount of mental toughness, so going into competition I am a bit more relaxed, but not too relaxed.
“I understand that this is a regional championship and the competition will be extremely fierce, so I am just going in to do my best similar to what I was doing back home. The main goal is to drop times and if medals come out of that then I would be extremely happy,” Lozer said.
Meanwhile, Team Manager Annelies Denny, in a small conference via Zoom on Tuesday, explained that the team went straight into their three-day quarantine when they arrived in Puerto Rico on Sunday, as part of the COVID-19 protocols around the event.
However, the Jamaicans were allowed to train by themselves for an hour each day to remain race ready for the championships. They also returned negative COVID-19 test results.
“The swimmers are pretty well prepared physically and mentally; we have been discussing the races, they got an opportunity to see their competitors over the last three days so they have a feel of what it is going to be like and I think that takes a that edge off the unknown,” said Denny.
“We have some great swimmers here, they are focused, driven and competitive so we do have high expectations of them but we know it comes down to how they are feeling on the day and how they are able to manage the competition and so we continue to do what we can to ensure they are feeling good,” she ended.
Prior to departure, the Kafia Rapley-coached team received some financial assistance from Supreme Ventures, while the Jamaica Olympic Association outfitted the team with sweat suits and travel shirts.
Team: 11-12 -Zaviya Cameron, Zack-Andre Johnson, Waldon; 13-14 - Christanya Shirley, Gianni Francis, Leanna Wainwright, Nelson Denny; 15-17 - Kito Campbell, Kaheem Lozer.
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