Local swimmers are striding ahead for 2011 and their efforts will be helped by volunteers with fresh international instruction.
The standing of local swimming officials was given a huge boost recently with the appointment of Adam Roberts and Olive Balderamos to the Federation Internationale de Natation (translation: International Swimming Federation) list of officials – Cayman’s first ever. FINA is the world governing body for competitive swimming, which means Roberts and Balderamos are now eligible to officiate at the highest international level. Both have officiated at home and overseas for many years and have a huge amount of experience.
Handing them their certification was Errol Clarke, the current President of Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (the regional governing swimming body) and the first person from the English-speaking Caribbean to be a member of the FINA Technical Swimming Committee. Clarke was on island for some five days in November for a series of official FINA clinics that covered the basics for those new to swimming officiating to those who have already stood as referees and been to the CARIFTA Games.
Some 16 people attended those clinics in Olive Balderamos, Christine Cleaver, Chillian Wong-Ellison, Vicki Girling, Dunstan Groome, Katie Lambert, Tom McCallum, Richard Moody, Marisa Poole, Adam and Amanda J. Roberts, Karen Shield, Coach Paula Swaby, Sheena and Derrick Westerborg and Colleen Williams.
Though only two were certified Cayman swimming is already seeing benefits. Over the four days of the Pirates Week Mike Lockwood memorial swim meet, trainees from Errol’s clinics helped out with officiating. Their involvement ensured that Lara Butler had an accurate 400m Individual Medley time of 5:04.20, which broke several local records.
Interestingly Roberts and his wife Amanda ran a beginners clinic for would-be officials in September. It was intended as a ‘warm-up’ for Clarke’s visit. The certification of both Roberts and Balderamos is a joint initiative of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association and the Stingray Swim Club. Both have been making a concerted effort to improve the standard and increase the number of swimming officials in the Cayman Islands.
Roberts states last month’s FINA clinics were a welcome impact on local swimming.
“This training can only strengthen Cayman swimming,” Roberts said. “In the near future, Cayman should have a strong list of its own qualified swim officials. In fact at the Mike Lockwood meet I saw a few trainees shadow our more experienced officials and at least one has already stood out.”