As 22 swimmers from Cayman prepared to leave for the 2016 Carifta Games in Martinique last week, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden met with them to offer words of encouragement.
“I know how hard you train and how much you give up to be successful at your sport,” Mr. Bodden told the swimmers, who range in age from 11 to 17. “I understand that some of you train over 20 hours a week and still maintain your grades at school – and this is something you should all be very, very proud of.”
Parents and directors of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association were also in attendance for the minister’s remarks.
“Participation in Carifta is a key reward for the swimmers’ years of training and is a critical motivating factor in their development,” Mr. Bodden said. “It is therefore absolutely important for the government to assist in ensuring that they are able to attend. CIASA has stringent and high standards for qualifying, and to train for 20 hours per week and meet the qualifying times but not being able to attend would be demotivating indeed. This is a process and developmental pathway that works – as has been demonstrated by those who have gone before, including our Olympians Andrew Mackay, Heather Roffey and Shaune and Brett Fraser.”
When the Ministry of Sports learned that, despite its fundraising efforts CIASA might not be able to send every athlete who qualified this year, the ministry provided CIASA with a grant of $18,000 for Carifta 2016. These funds ensured that every swimmer who qualified could travel to Martinique and compete.
“We wish you the very best in Martinique,” Minister Bodden said. “I will be watching your results as you compete and assure you that all of Cayman will be cheering you on.”
CIASA President Michael Lockwood said, “On behalf of the swimmers, their parents and the greater Cayman Islands swim family, I extend my thanks to the government, to the Hon. Minister Osbourne Bodden and to his team at the ministry, including Joel Francis for working so quickly and efficiently on our behalf. I add my best wishes to our swimmers, to those extended by the minister, and I also look forward to cheering you on.”
The team, along with a head coach, two associate coaches and a team manager, left for Martinique on March 18.
The games run March 22-26 and the team’s progress, as well as live streaming of the finals, can be viewed at www.liveffn.com. The site is in French, but by clicking through to Carifta and on the word Francais in the top right corner, viewers can select to see the site in English.