Young swimmers express mixed reactions to cancellation of Carifta Champs


Young swimmers express mixed reactions to cancellation of Carifta Champs

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

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THE superb work done by Jamaica's young swimmers late last year suggested they were on course to do extremely well this year.

But all their hard work done in and out of the pool over the past months seemed meaningless after news came that the Carifta Swimming Championship had been cancelled.

For those swimmers, that information was the final nail in the coffin of a shattered season, as they had hoped Carifta would be their saving grace for some competitive pool action – after CCCAN and some local meets were initially called off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This was the first time the Carifta Swimming Championship was being cancelled in its 35-year history.

With the exception of the five-member female team that represented at the UANA Swimming Cup in Peru in February, a large number of the country's age group swimmers have now been left to pick up the pieces and focus their attention on next year's competitions.

From Kyle Sinclair, Akeem Alleyne and Alisha Stephenson, who were looking forward to closing the Carifta chapter of their careers on a high, to debutante Kayla Kerr, the swimmers are stressed about being out of the pool prior to the cancellation, which means a drastic decline in aerobic capability.

So now, while some are unable to mask their disappointment, the general consensus is to use every opportunity available to focus heavily on improving their swimming technique and ultimately their performance, if and when the National Aquatic Centre reopens.

Alleyne expressed mixed feelings at the news.

“It is disappointing that Carifta was cancelled this year, especially for me because it was my last year at Carifta. But, while I am disappointed because I have been training for so long, I do understand that it was a necessary step because of the COVID-19 spread. So it is just for us now to focus our efforts on looking ahead,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Zaneta Alvaranga, who was a medal winner among the five UANA Cup representatives, said the cancellation was expected.

“I am not too surprised because I was kind of expecting it, because if the Olympics could have been postponed I figured it would have been the same with Carifta. So though it is always an honour and pleasure to represent Jamaica, I am not really bothered; I am just trying to start my preparations for next year from now and work on improving my game,” the decorated swimmer reasoned.

Final-year 13-14 representative Daniel Mair had hopes of the meet being held later this year.

“I was pretty disappointed because I thought that they could or would have waited until the end of the year, but they didn't...I am taking this time to work on my stroke and see where I can improve and I think I have gotten a lot fitter, so I am just trying to stay positive and look on the bright side of things,” said Mair.

Sinclair, who has been one of Jamaica's standouts at the regional championship, rued the fact that he wasn't able to grace the Carifta stage one more time.

“Upon hearing of the CCCAN [Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation] cancellation, my spirit never dropped that low because I am still able to compete in the 18 and over group at that championship. But now, the cancellation of Carifta has dealt me a big blow as this would have been my last year in the 15-17 age group,” Sinclair shared.

“I have been training and doing some weight lifting and distance running, and so it is really disheartening to know that this would have been my last year to compete at Carifta and I am unable to do so,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kerr believed the experience this year would have served as a springboard for her career.

“It is unfortunate that it had to be cancelled and I am somewhat disappointed, because I was looking forward to it. This would have been my first Carifta and I felt I would have been able to do better times and just get the experience, but for now I am just going to roll with it and look forward to making the team again next year,” Kerr noted.

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