The CARIFTA 2013 Swimming Championships were the source of team and personal triumphs, medals and personal bests.
One emotional story, however, that did not have a current Cayman Islands swimmer at its centre is one which saw the Landon Von Kanel Award being presented to young Damon St. Prix of Barbados.
In 1996, 12-year-old Landon Von Kanel won Cayman’s first CARIFTA swim medal. Competing at CARIFTA, he won both the 200 metre and 400m freestyle events in the youngest age group.
A delightful young man, Landon sparked an excitement for swimming previously unknown in Cayman. Proving medals were possible inspired future Olympians and other young athletes to put in the work that brings success.
In 2001, a tragic car accident claimed Landon’s life – and in 2002 the Landon Von Kanel Award was created for young swimmers who could replicate his 1996 double gold achievement.
The Von Kanel Award has been earned seven out of the 12 years since then, including this year by St. Prix. When the Cayman Islands team and its supporters realised Damon, the winner of the 200m freestyle was well seeded for the 400m free final, it was a foregone conclusion that they would be cheering for him.
And cheer they did from start to finish. It was a proud moment when Cayman captains Geoffrey Butler and Katie Klein stepped forward to present the award, honouring a young man and his family who are still passionate supporters of swimming in the Cayman Islands.
The significance of the award was also noticed by Dylan Thomas from Trinidad who, having won it himself some years earlier, made a point of congratulating St. Prix.
This year’s CARIFTA championships took place in Kingston, Jamaica and Cayman won 14 medals, including three gold and placed 10th overall.