The Cayman Islands Amateur Swim Association has announced the 2006 team that will represent Cayman at the CARIFTA Swim Championships being held in Barbados April 6-9th.
Carifta is an important developmental tool of swimming in the Caribbean, and serves as the Caribbean’s age group championship. 17 Caribbean countries have been invited. There are also water polo and synchronized swimming competitions, but Cayman does not field a team in those events.
Competition will be over four days, in three age groups: 11-12 yrs, 13-14 yrs, 15-17 yrs separated by male/female of course. Age is as of Dec 31st, not the first day of the meet. There are two sessions each day, in a standard prelims in the morning, finals in the evening format. Competition is run under FINA rules.
The team is made up of 19 swimmers this year, including 4 rookies and 3 seniors, unusual with one more boy than girl. It will be the last Carifta for: Lisa Rombough, Michael Lockwood and Shaune Fraser who is coming off a strong performance at Commonwealth Games.
For the first time the team includes a Special Olympic athlete. Andrew Smiley trains as much and as hard as the rest of the team.
National Special Olympics Aquatics coach Penny McDowall thought Andrew would be ‘an asset and inspiration to the team in his dedication to the training and the sport. The benefits to him going are immense in training for the Special Olympic World Games 2007 to be held in China the level he will be competing against will be extremely high and the confidence gained through swimming in a high profile setting such as CARIFTA will be invaluable.’
As in the past, team selection was based on a combination of qualifying times, training and the needs and limits of the team. The intense training regimen of these youngsters started before Christmas, like swimmers everywhere and continues right up til departure Monday April 3rd. Coach Dom was recently gone to Australia for 12 days, coaching at the Commonwealth Games, during the critical month lead up to Carifta. He hopes to get back on Cayman time before departure for Barbados! New swim instructor Alex Webb took over the reigns of the swim program, while the pool deck was short staffed.
Maples and Calder have recently stepped up to become a major sponsor for Carifta. The Carifta team greatly appreciates the continuing major sponsorship of Cable & Wireless, Cayman Airways and Speedo. International swimming has extremely limiting rules about logo placement, reflective of the limited space on gear, as neither bathing suits nor swim caps have much room on them.