Government’s recent announcement that the beaches are once again open for exercise saw Cayman’s competitive swimmers grabbing their goggles and caps and heading straight to our famous Seven Mile Beach.
Swimming is a sport which requires an incredible commitment with many swimmers training year round, taking only a couple of weeks off at the end of each summer, so being “grounded” for almost a month was a real challenge. On top of that our swimmers had to shake off the disappointments of a lost competitive season which counted the 2020 CARIFTA Swimming Championships (cancelled), 2020 Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) swimming and artistic swimming (cancelled), and the Summer Olympics (postponed) amongst its casualties; Cayman’s swimmers and coaches are looking forward and preparing as best they can for their next season.
Selection to a national team is always an honour, and all those selected for the Junior National CARIFTA Team – first-time swimmers and veteran alike – were disappointed at the cancellation; but for three of Cayman’s Junior National Team swimmers, the cancelled CARIFTA is all the more disappointing as the 2020 edition of what is the most vibrant celebrations of swimming in the Caribbean, would have been their last. CARIFTA is for age group swimmers up to the age of 17 years old, and Cayman standouts, and multiple CARIFTA medal winners Jordan Crooks, Alison Jackson and Zachary Moore all turn 18 this year.
Asked how they feel about missing their last CARIFTA, the trio had this to say:
"I was a little disappointed that CARIFTA was cancelled, but I am looking forward to what the future holds. Over the past six years, I have made many fun memories and friends, and I am thankful for all the opportunities that CZRIFTA has given me." Jordan Crooks.
“Not being able to have one last CARIFTA to represent Cayman is disappointing but I know it’s for the best. I hope I set an example for future Cayman swimmers to follow as they represent their country at CARIFTA and hopefully they have as much fun racing and making new friends as I did. I’m glad the health and safety of myself, my teammates, my friends and all athletes across the Caribbean is being put first during this time.” Alison Jackson
“I was at home during spring break when the heart-breaking news was announced. The whole of my semester was focused on training for the event, with the hopes of giving my country my best at my last CARIFTA. I will say it really hurt not being part of the Cayman CARIFTA team one last time, and competing with the friends I have made over the last seven years. Although it was disappointing, I understand that the decision was made with the athletes’ health in mind and overall safety of the Caribbean. The last thing I would want was for our athletes in the Caribbean to fall ill with this treacherous disease. These time have shown me how swimming is more than competition, it is the relationships that come along with the journey.” Zachary Moore.
The 2020 Junior National Swim Team selected to travel to Barbados, had not been announced previously, but in recognition of the athletes’ hard work CIASA President Michael Lockwood announced them today. An asterisk next to a name indicates that this team member is a first time qualifier.
Pool and Open Water Team: Alison Jackson, Allyson Belfonte, Brianna Fischetti, Corey Frederick-Westerberg, Dominic Hilton*, Harper Barrowman, Jake Bailey, James Allison*, Jasmine Lambert-Wragg*, Jillian Crooks, Jordan Crooks, Kyra Rabess, Lila Higgo, Phin Ellison*, Raya Embury-Brown, Sabine Ellison, Sierrah Broadbelt*, Sofia Bonati, Stefano Bonati, Tate Marr*, Teagan Nash*, Will Sellars and Zachary Moore.
Artistic Swimming: Abbie Carnahan, Alex Owen*, Alexandra Philp*, Allie Capasso*, Amber Barnes, Amelia Thomas*, Anna Owen*, Azania Osborne*, Elena Poppy Read, Iona Nicol*, Kaila Whitney*, Katie Ruddick*, Lila Higgo, Madeleine Arbo*, Madison Van Duynhoven, Maeve Anderson*, Maeve Finnegan*, Maureen Kohler*, Nicolas Isabel, Scarlett Nadeau*.
Michael Lockwood, CIASA President commented: “We are incredibly proud of all these young athletes who trained hard and sacrificed a great deal to earn their places on the 2020 CARIFTA Junior National Team. One of the lessons athletes learn early on is how to manage disappointments; and how to take them, learn from them and turn them in to something positive – and I am confident our swimmers are doing just that. While we wish our team had been able to compete, we join sporting organisations and countries around the world in putting the health and safety of our athletes first – and now we turn our attention to 2021 which will surely be a busy year for our swimmers.”
For swimmers who can train as much as 18 hours a day in the pool, with additional hours spent in dryland conditioning, the continued easement of restrictions around beach exercise will help Cayman’s national swimmers, as well as all the age-group and masters swimmers, in their journey back to fitness. What’s the next thing they are looking forward to? Training in the pool again when they are safely opened with social distancing protocols and guide lines in place. For more information on CIASA visit www.ciasa.ky or contact Kathy Jackson at email@example.com