Today’s Editorial March 31: Swimming needs support

An article on the front page of today’s Caymanian Compass tells of the extraordinary achievement of Caymanian Olympic swimmer Shaune Fraser.

Swimming in the NCAA Division 1 Championships this past weekend in College Station, Texas, Shaune not only won two of the events, he set an NCAA record in the 200-yard butterfly.

There are about 1,200 NCAA member schools, and our own Shaune Fraser swam a time faster than anyone from any of those schools ever did. To put the accomplishment into further perspective, Shaune swam faster than everyone who ever swam in the event – NCAA or not – with the exception of one person: Olympic gold medal record breaker Michael Phelps.

That a swimmer from a small country like the Cayman Islands could achieve what Shaune did is a testament to his individual abilities, his drive and his dedication to the sport of swimming. It is also a testament to the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association programme, and to former national coach David Kelsheimer and current national coach Dominic Ross.

Also impressive was Shaune’s younger brother Brett, who is making a name for himself in his own right as a sophomore swimmer at the University of Florida.

What makes the Fraser brother’s achievements even more incredible is that prior to leaving for university in the United States, they both had to train in a pool half the size of the pools in which most, if not all, of their competitors trained.

Clearly, Cayman’s swimming programme is producing elite athletes, yet we can’t seem to find the funding to build a proper 50-metre pool so these athletes can train the way world-class swimmers from other countries do.

Obviously, given the current economic crisis and government’s budget deficit, public funding for such a pool is a long way off. Unfortunately, the pool didn’t get built when times were good.

As is often the case, the challenge of coming up with the funding to build a 50-metre pool will require the support of private sector, which isn’t in the best position to help with such an endeavour right now either.

Eventually, prosperous times will come again. Hopefully, the government and the private sector will then work together to see a 50-metre pool become a reality.

In the meantime, we can only marvel at the achievements of the Frasers and wish them the best at the World Championships in Rome in July.

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