June 20, 2011
After three sessions of intense competition at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Aquatics Center, the Swift Swimming Club led the field of confirmed swim teams participating in the Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC) National Swimming Championships, by more than 170 points. The closest to Swift Swimming was the Sea Bees Swim Club, followed by the defending champions Barracudas Swim Club and the Dolphins Swim Club. All three teams trailing Swift were looking to make a splashing comeback in session four, held late Sunday evening. Over two days and three sessions, Swift Swimming had accumulated 646 points. Both the Sea Bees and Barracudas Swim Clubs had surpassed the 400-point totals, Sea Bees at 467.50 and Barracudas with 416.50 points, for second and third respectively. The Dolphins Swim Club scored 127 points with Abaco Swim Club fifth with 94. Three points behind and sitting in sixth was the Lucayan Lightening Swim Team. The Freeport Aquatics Club has 50 points, Team Orca has 47, the Blue Marlin Aquatics has 37 and the Sea Waves Aquatic Team rounds out the field with just one point.
The 40th edition of the national championships, hosted by the Bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF), has attracted a record number of participants looking to qualify for upcoming regional and international swim meets this summer. The four-day meet is the last opportunity for swimmers to qualify for the FINA World Championships. It is also a tune-up for those swimmers having already been named to the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation (CCCAN) team, set to compete June 25-July 3, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Federation head Algernon Cargill confirmed that the level of competition has risen and that the 22-member CCCAN team should do very well. "The excitement at nationals has always been tremendous," said Cargill. "We've had a good crowd out, in fact a record number in crowd and entries. There were some outstanding swims, especially from some our senior athletes who are preparing for CCCAN and Pan Am. We have had quite a number of swimmers making Pan Am cuts, which is good. We expect that the next two days will be even more exciting in particular, when it comes to the 50 Free events, that is where all the crowd gets involved."
Winning the 50-meter (m) Breast for girls 15-and-over was Alicia Lightbourne in 34.79 seconds. Shaunte Moss and Maya Albury were second and third respectively, in times of 36.35 seconds and 37.26 seconds. Lucas Leite is the national champion in the boys 15-and-over division. His time of 29.75 seconds not only gave him the win over the field of eight swimmers, but qualified him for the CCCAN Championships as well. Touching the wall seconds behind Leite was Michael McIntosh in 30.69 seconds and he was followed by former Olympian Jeremy Knowles who posted a time of 30.77 seconds.
Also dipping under CCCAN qualifying times over the weekend were Alana Dillette, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Vereance Burrows. Dillette swam 1:04.25 to win the 15-and-over 100m Back while Vanderpool-Wallace captured the national title in the 100m Fly. Vanderpool-Wallace's time was 1:01.82. In the 15-and over 100m Fly for boys, Burrows stopped the clock at 55.63 seconds ahead of Knowles who turned in 59.20 seconds.
Burrows said: "I was satisfied with the 100 Fly and this morning (Sunday) I wasn't really checking for the 100 Free. I just went out hard in the first half of it to get a decent time and tonight I am going to do the same thing. However, I might go for it in the relay.
"Since there aren't anymore competitions before the championships, right now all I have to work on is the little things. I have to make sure that I am still sharp and in shape, but I am mostly resting. I've put in all the work so now I can rest to reach my peak."
Knowles won the 100m Back title, and the consolation final in the event, inclusive of international swimmers, would be claimed by Zach McGinnis. McGinnis is an old college friend of Burrows. He as well as the 20-plus international swimmers who are competing at the nationals, are hoping to turn in qualifying times for the FINA World Championships. His time in the 100m Back was 58.03 seconds. Luis Rojas was second in 58.46 seconds and Bryan Lundquist finished third in 1:01.20.
Burrows added: "This nationals it is like 2008, we had a few guests come down from different countries to try and make their times. That is what they are kind of doing right now, looking to qualify for the World Championships, so it is good to have some outside competition to spice up the event and push you along."
A part from targeting medals at the FINA World Championships, set to take place in Shanghai, China, July 16-31, Burrows would like to break two Bahamian National records in the races he competes in. He would get a shot at setting a new national record in his final two events of the swim meet, the 50 Free and one of the relays. As for McGinnis, the 200 Back, 100 Fly and 50 Free are still on the schedule for him.
The RBC National Swimming Championships continued last evening, will continue today and will conclude on Tuesday. A list of qualifiers and records achieved will be released by the local governing body after the final event.
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