With telecommunications giant BTC coming on board as the title sponsor, the Bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF) is now set to host what they hope will be one of the grandest CARIFTA Swimming Championships ever.
The 27th annual event is set for April 12-15 at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex, with over 500 young swimmers from 22 countries participating. A 36-member Bahamian team is set to represent The Bahamas in six divisions over four days of competition. BSF President Algernon Cargill said that they are extremely grateful for the $40,000 contribution of platinum sponsor BTC, and look forward to an exciting meet where young Bahamians will be competing against the region's best.
"Without BTC and the support of the government, we would not have been able to host this meet," said Cargill. "BTC's title sponsorship enables the Bahamas Swimming Federation to provide an opportunity for young Bahamians to compete at home in front of their families and friends. We have to thank BTC for stepping up, particularly when so many doors were closed due to budget constraints and competition for sponsorship.
"BTC, together with the government of The Bahamas, are providing significant funding to the BSF to assist with the hosting of the CARIFTA Swimming Championships. BTC's mission statement includes their commitment to improve the quality of life for the people of The Bahamas and it boasts many programs, such as its 'Connection Program' that boldly demonstrates its commitment to its mission statement. The 36-member Bahamian CARIFTA swim team members are by extension proud ambassadors of BTC's commitment to improving the quality of life of Bahamians, and on behalf of the federation, I thank BTC."
Also coming on board for the championships as bronze partners of the federation are Morley Realty, Commonwealth Brewery, Asa H. Pritchard Ltd. and Bluebird Juice, and J.S. Johnson. Caribbean Bottling Company Ltd. and Coca-Cola are aqua sponsors.
"Corporate Bahamas, it's not too late," appealed Cargill yesterday. "Our committee has made a yeoman's effort to solicit your assistance in these difficult times and we ask you to emulate the contribution of our platinum sponsor, BTC, and other sponsors and contribute in some meaningful way to the community in which you do business. Our young people appreciate your contribution to their development."
As for the team itself, with the championships being held here at home, Cargill said that it was imperative that they select the strongest squad possible.
Arguably the best breast stroker in the region, Dustin Tynes, will be looking to sweep the breaststroke events just like he did in Barbados last year. Only, this time, the Grand Bahamian swimmer will be competing in the 15-17 division as opposed to the 13-14 age group. Other multi medalists, from a year ago, returning this year include Margaret Albury, Tremaine Allen, Simone Sturrup, Laura Morley, Bria Deveaux, Taryn Smith and Evante Gibson just to name a few. The talented 36-member squad is expected to be led by Deveaux on the female side, and Gibson on the male side. It is a true national team with members from New Providence and Grand Bahama, and for the first time ever, two from Abaco.
In addition to it being the top junior swim meet in the Caribbean, the 2012 CARIFTA Swimming Championships will also be a qualifier for this year's Olympic Games in London, England, where only two Bahamians have qualified thus far - Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Alana Dillette.
The Bahamas finished third at last year's CARIFTA Swimming Championships, and has consistently been in the top three over the past 10 years. The country last won the regional meet in 2003, when it was held in Jamaica.
The Bahamas will also be competing in water polo at the CARIFTA level this year, and according to Cargill, that team is also in need of corporate support. Those championships will be held April 6-9, in Kingston, Jamaica. The Head Coach of the swim team is Andy Knowles and the Head Coach of the water polo team is Laszlo Borbely.
BTC, which has supported sports in the country on numerous occasions in the past, continues to assist in national development in a most tangible way. The telecommunications company was also the title sponsor of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' (BAAA) Jr. and Sr. National Championships last year, and in addition to being the title sponsor of the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, the company is the official team sponsor for the swim squad as well.
"BTC is proud to support the Bahamas Swimming Federation and this select group of talented Bahamian swimmers as they represent their country on their home soil," said BTC Vice President of Brand and Communications, Marlon Johnson. "We are very excited to be a part of this historic event that will showcase the new athletic facilities of The Bahamas and the excellence for which the Bahamian team stands. When we at BTC provide funds for a worthwhile cause in the community, we do not consider it as a gift. We believe it is an investment in the future of The Bahamas, and perhaps nowhere is this more true than in sports."
Johnson said that their vast contribution to the CARIFTA swim squad stems beyond just being a good corporate citizen by giving back to the community.
"Sports teaches us so much," said Johnson yesterday. "It personifies and exemplifies that which is good in a society. To be good, we have to practice. To be great, we have to practice even when we do not feel like it. It teaches us discipline. It teaches us that hard work has its rewards, that dedication and devotion and sacrifice can make us winners. It teaches us teamwork and the need for respect for others whether competitors or teammates.
"In sports lies the lesson that no matter how good we are at what we do, we do not perform in a vacuum but in concert with our teammates or competition against others who are also striving to be the best. We are not in this alone, no matter how alone we may feel at times. We do better as a team, and that coincides with our theme here at BTC, the team that powers your connectivity.
"We at BTC are proud and excited to be a part of the 2012 BTC CARIFTA Swimming Championships, and we wish all of our swimmers a great meet, with lots of healthy competition, strong teamwork, lots of good sportsmanship, and at the end of the day, we hope that you will be dripping not just with beads of water, but with medals galore."
Cargill said that this has been one of the most challenging years ever for swimming, with the heaters at the Betty Kenning complex not being fully functional. As a result, the swimmers weren't getting the amount of training time that they normally get.
Kevin Colebrooke, chief sports and recreation officer in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture said that they are extremely proud to be a part of the championships, and assured the public, that the pool at the Betty Kenning complex which has experienced problems with the heaters since the start of the season, will be ready for competition. He said that the heaters will be up and fully functional for the duration of the championships.
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian