The first staging of the Carifta Games took place in Barbados in 1972, the brainchild of Austin Sealy, the then former President of the Olympic Association, and took the form of track and field events open to Caribbean Countries. As time passed the games developed to include other disciplines. The multisport concept was developed from 1985 to 1989 when in 1989 a decision was made to resort to a single sport concept after organisation of the former became expensive and difficult to coordinate. The Championships begun with the Countries which signed the agreement of the Caribbean Free Trade Association and the name CARIFTA is the acronym which is now a misnomer since membership has been expanded to include Countries outside of this agreement.

CARIFTA swimming continued on its own from 1989 organised by the Amateur Swimming Associations. Due to the lack of 50 metre facilities in the region CARIFTA ranged from a meet in yards to short course to 50 metre in the early beginnings. During this time a decision was made that the meet should be alternated between Countries in the north and south of the Caribbean. In 1985 the inaugural meet was held in the 20 yard pool at the Ursuline Convent in Barbados thanks to the untiring efforts of Dr Noris Procope.

The Championship was broadened to include the disciplines of water polo and synchronised swimming beginning in the year 2002. Some discussion began on the inclusion of open water swimming but these deliberations are still very much in the embryonic stages.