The Barbados Olympic Association recently held their Annual Award Ceremony at the Barbados Hilton, to honour the performances of our nation’s most outstanding athletes for 2016. These awards saw 3 national junior swimmers recognized for their achievements in the sport, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to Olympic Swimmer Alex Sobers, for being selected as the Junior Male Athlete of the Year. We would also like to congratulation junior swimmers Nkosi Dunwoody and Ashley Weekes for coping the awards for 2016 Champion Swimmers, male and female, at the BOA sponsored 50th Anniversary Independence Games, held in December 2016.
To quote the words of world-renowned track and field athlete Mr. Carl Lewis (the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony),
“Set those goals, make sure it’s about being the best that you can be, be accountable for what you want to do, put yourself out there, put yourself on what you want to be, let people know how great you want to be, what you want to achieve and then demand the people around you to help you get there because it is a tough challenge,”
The Barbados Water Polo Club will be heading off to Florida next Thursday, November 24th, to compete in the annual Julie Zurek Ardila Thanksgiving Tournament, hosted by the Miami Riptides Aquatics Club, November 25th to 28th. Competition this year promises to be exciting and challenging. with 30 teams participating from across five divisions in the USA and internationally. Competition is open to all age groups from 12 yrs and under to Seniors.
Barbados will be fielding a Junior (Flying Fish) team and a Senior (Sharks) team. This will be the second year that Barbados will be participating. Team members are looking forward to this competition. They have been training five times a week and view this as preparation for Carifta Championships in The Bahamas next year. Twenty players will represent Barbados in the two divisions. The teams will be managed by Mrs Songee Beckles.
The Head Coach, Ryan Forde who is also Captain of the senior team says…”we are excited to be travelling to Miami to test our level of play ahead of Carifta and CCCAN in 2017. Both teams have been training well, especially the Juniors. They have been gaining strength, flexibility and discipline through our dry-land sessions over the last two and a half months, and have mixed that with their game fitness. The seniors are going with a younger squad this year because they are in a state of transition. However it is our push to qualify for CAC 2018. This weekend will be a great test for both teams as they play against the better equipped American teams. I believe the Juniors are on the right path for Carifta. They have been working to bridge the gap in the region for the last two years and aim to make it to the Final. After that…it is our fight for the gold.”
The Barbados Water Polo Club will continue to prepare for Carifta when the Junior team heads off to the Trinidad and Tobago Nationals, December 15th to 18th at the new National Aquatic Centre in Couva, Trinidad. At that time the Girls’ team will participate and Barbados will present a mixed team. Last year Barbados won the silver medals and they will be seeking the gold this year. Team Managers for the Trinidad tournament will be Mrs Juliet Springer and Dr Leo Brewster. Coach will be Miss Natalia Parris.
Alex started competitive swimming in 2007 at the annual Aquatic Center International at the age of eight. He was still a novice swimmer, as a couple weeks before he was still enrolled in the “learn to swim” program; however Alex adapted very quickly and made his presence felt from then on. In 2008 he made the 9-10 boys Goodwill Team to represent Barbados, which was held in Guyana. He found the competition a bit challenging as he was up against more seasoned swimmers, but this all fueled him to train harder as he was determined to win an individual race in upcoming competitions. He won his first medal at the BASA SC Nationals in December 2008, and this set a thirst for more and to be better and improve his times. Alex first major trophy came at the 18th Annual Aquatic Center International in 2009 where he was awarded 9-10 age group Champion. He also won that award again in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
In 2011 he qualified to be part of the Carfita Swim Team held in Barbados, winning gold in the 200 butterfly, and hearing the National Anthem playing in front of your home crowd for the first time was a special moment. Along the way there were many other age group titles, and medals. 2014 was Alex’s first taste of international competition at the Short Course World Championships held in Qatar. This was an eye opener, as the best swimmers in the world were there and he was able to meet his idol, Ryan Lochte. In 2015 once he realized he had a realistic chance of qualifying for the Rio Olympics his training scheduled increased to a high and demanding level, at times with him wanting to give up. However with motivation from his coaches and parents he continued. At one point he thought that swimming under the four minute barrier was beyond him. When it finally came at the CISC championships in Bahamas he was relieved to say the least.
Alex will compete in the 400m Freestyle at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Lani got started in swimming in 1996 after she was encouraged by her parents. Lani’s first year on a national team was when she attending CARIFTA in 2006 on home soil in Barbados, where she was a distance finalist. In 2011 she attended Pan American Games in Mexico where she also completed in the distance freestyle events. Her international swimming career also includes participation at the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 World Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 2016 at CISC in Bahamas Lani won the silver medal in the 400m Free and the bronze medal in the 800m Free.
“Growing up pursuing a sport as well doing school is very challenging, and plenty times I thought about giving up because of how difficult it got. I never took a break from swimming but I went through a phase where my times were off for a year or so, but I just stuck with it. My parents and siblings, coaches, teammates and food motivate me most! Swimming and traveling the world and getting to meet new people makes me love the sport even more. Constantly striving to be better than I was yesterday makes me feel great about myself. Continuing swimming gave me the chance to pursue my swimming career and academics overseas, and gave me the chance to meet all kinds of people,and everyday I came face to face with new opportunities. Getting this far has been extremely difficult and so many times I got upset about having to miss out on a family member’s birthday or a friend’s party, but reaching my lifelong dream of the Olympics made all the sweat, tears and difficult practices worth it! I never once gave up on my dream and I never once doubted myself, and all the sacrifices paid off.”
Lani will compete in the 400m Freestyle at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The XXI Caribbean Island Swimming Championships concluded on Saturday night with Barbados amassing a total of 11 Gold, 9 Silver and 14 Bronze medals over the four day championships. There were 3 new Individual Age Group Records – two going to McCallum Clarke and one to Nkosi Dundwoody and 1 Relay National Age Group record for Barbados (Tristan Pragnell, McCallum Clarke, Christopher Pollard and Zachary Taylor in the 11-12 Boys 4 x 100M Medley Relay). McCallum Clarke also broke the 16 year old CISC Meet record in the 200M Breaststroke. His time of 2:36.83 surpassed the old record of 2:40.87. Alex Sobers also broke the CISC Meet Record in the 400M Free event when he posted a time of 3:57.30 earning the top spot in that event.
Barbados finished 5th overall with 508 points. The Barbadian boys team placed 3rd overall with 296 points and the girls placed 5th overall with 188 points. 17 countries were eligible to receive points at the meet and over 500 athletes competed. Bahamas placed first overall (1060 points) with Puerto Rico (874 points) taking the second spot and Trinidad and Tobago (770.5 points) capturing 3rd place overall.
The highlight of the meet for Team Barbados came on the last night of competition when 17 year old Alex Sobers achieved an Olympic B qualifying time in the 400M Freestyle. The qualifying mark was 3:58.51 and young Sobers finished in a time of 3:57.30 in a brilliant finish way in front of the rest of the field with the next closest swimmer posting a time of 4:07.12. This earned Sobers his ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Synchro Barbados presented its end of year show, Summer Splash 2016 on Saturday, June 18th. The audience at The Aquatic Centre was entertained with eleven performances and a crowd pleasing finale which included beginners, recreational, masters and the competitive team. Awards were distributed to the swimmers who’d recently completed their Star Testing, ranging from Star Level 1 to Star Level 6. Award for Best Figures went to Nia Morris, Overall Performance ~ Savannah Berridge and Most Improved ~ Gracie Foster.