Little Martha Rivers has only just turned 11 last month but she is already a swimming sensation.
The Cayman Brac athlete won three gold medals at the Grand Canyon State Games’ International Summer Games last week in Phoenix, Arizona.
She competed in the 11-12 year old age group.
Rivers has been swimming since she was four and has won events at meets in the Caribbean as well as in Florida swimming for the Cayman Islands Stingray Swim Club.
She extended her competitive field by flying all the way to Arizona, a hot bed of Olympic level swimmers, to compete against girls up to 23 months older than herself. When asked what was the best part of her visit to Arizona she replied with a smile and held up her three gold medals.
Rivers won gold in the 50 yard backstroke (37.52 seconds), the 50 yard Breaststroke (42.50) and 50 yard freestyle (31.79).
More than 7,000 persons of all age and ability levels competed in 33 sports in these 2009 Summer Games in Arizona, the largest amateur sports festival in the United States.
The opportunity was made available through the Global Academy for International Athletics and the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee.
Rivers was provided with individual coaching by two time Olympian Michael Troy and performance psychologist Chris Dorris for three days prior to the competition day.
Each morning she had a short mental exercise programme, followed by some brief explanation of how elite athletes and others prepare to succeed at their chosen tasks, then she had one to one and a half hours swim training with coach Troy. Most afternoons were free to sight see, shop or relax, hosted by members of the Global Sports Academy committee.
Global Academy’s William Maxwell stated in his final report that Martha has all the natural attributes of a successful athlete. A detailed ‘prescription’ for future training will be prepared and forwarded to her coaches in Cayman with recommendations for age and ability appropriate training routines.
He stated that it takes enormous sacrifice and discipline, as well as natural giftedness, to be an elite athlete.
Martha was accompanied by her mother, Anne Jackson, who enjoyed the opportunity as much as her daughter did. Her hopes are that Martha will be able to be supported at home in Cayman Brac to achieve her swimming ambitions.