Cayman’s best youngsters are off to Aruba next week for the annual Carifta Games.
The tournament is from April 17-19 and as always, Cayman will have a strong team headed by the likes of Seiji Groome, Lara Butler, Joshua Bain, Geoffrey Butler and the Flowers sisters, Summer and Tori.
Geoffrey Butler said: ‘It feels nice to represent Cayman at a really competitive meet. It feels really special.
‘This is my third Carifta but I’ve only had one other meet like this. As this is my brother Simon’s first year, I’ll try to help him and the other young ones.
‘This year I want to try to make the finals and then I think I’ll have a slight chance of getting a medal.’
Summer Flowers is in the 200, 400 and 800 metres freestyle and the 200 metres backstroke.
She said: ‘I think it’s an honour to be able to represent my country so I’m proud that I’m able to do that. Hopefully I can do well.
‘At the Cariftas I hope to do personal bests and just to make the finals.’
She trains nine times a week and knows that like the others she is an ambassador for Cayman. ‘You have to make sure that you represent Cayman well,’ she added.
‘It’s great to be able to represent my island and also to meet people from other islands.’
The Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett were making headlines again last week with their swimming exploits for the University of Florida. They went to the Olympics last year in Beijing and are likely to go to the London Olympics in 2012.
Flowers, 16, wants to join them. ‘They’re amazing. When they come down here, I train with them and stuff. They’re pretty inspiring. I’m prepared to work to get to where they are.
‘If they’re able to do what they’ve done, coming from here and training in the 25 metre pool and not having the best opportunities, that is pretty inspiring.
Coach Dominic Ross is confident this team can build on last year’s success.
‘We got six medals last year and some of them are returning again this year, so we’re pretty confident that we’re going to do well,’ he said.
‘We have no control over what swimmers in other countries do but we’re confident in our swimmers. If they swim as fast as they can, then they’ll be in the mix.
‘This team compared to last year is developing and getting stronger. We’re also adding new people at the bottom end of the age group and we’re looking forward to a faster team.
‘They’re starting to get the feeling for it now and getting excited for it. It’s only a week away and they’re looking good.
‘They’ve watched the Fraser brothers and it’s a big boost for them and they’re excited that they’re going to be part of their team as well and will eventually go to meets together with Shaune and Brett.’
Ross swam the seven choppy, difficult miles across North Sound last week to help raise funds for this trip.
Did that impress his young charges? ‘Well they were very supportive. Some came out there. It was a little early for them on a Sunday morning because they’re up early every other day, but some came along to cheer me on and help out with the direction, food and things like that.
‘They’re all pretty pleased that I did it. It was fun and they deserve that kind of support.’
None have any ambitions of doing it themselves although Ross admits that they would probably complete it a lot faster than the three and a half hours it took him.
‘The thought of it doesn’t really excite them that much, but you never know, one day.’
Ross is confident that Lara Butler can come back with a medal. ‘She was in the 13-14 age group last year and won a medal and she’s back in that category this time.
‘Joshua Bain was a finalist last year and he’s got a chance to get up in the mix in the 13-14 age group with the best of them.
‘Seiji’s returning but he’s at the bottom end of the 15-17 age group so there’s some big boys for him to race. He’s up to the challenge, so we’ll see.
‘Summer and Tori are strong too. The Cariftas are the one time in the year that the Caribbean region gets together and the swimmers get to go at each other. This is the 24th edition and it’s been great motivation wise.
‘It’s also a great, fun meet to be part of, wonderful atmosphere.’