The CARIFTA Swimming Championships has become a victim of COVID-19 yet again, following an announcement that the 26 March- 7 April sporting event to be held in Barbados has been postponed indefinitely.
This marks the second postponement of the event after the decision was made last March to delay the massive swimming competition by a year as a precaution.
With the host country currently in a two-week lockdown after recording over 1,000 new COVID cases since the beginning of the year, Barbados Amateur Swimming Association president Cheryl Lady Forde issued a statement on Wednesday, 27 Jan.to put the championships on hold until further notice.
“An executive decision was taken this evening by the BASA to postpone Carifta 2021 after a review of the current COVID-19 situation in Barbados and by extension, in the region,” said Forde in the statement.
“It was agreed that a new date would be decided after the “national pause”- [a] lockdown that is expected to end on February 17th.”
Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association president Michael Lockwood, in noting the decision by BASA, said he understood the unpredictability surrounding the pandemic.
“It is always a very tough decision,” said Lockwood. “We don’t know where any of us are going to stand in terms of COVID. It was probably the right decision in terms of postponing because I don’t know how many countries would have been able to get to Barbados for the Easter weekend.”
However, Lockwood says he is hoping to find an alternative swimming event with CARFTA on hold. “We will continue to prepare our kids… and we will find other ways to get them excited,” said Lockwood.
“We might be doing a swim camp that weekend in the Brac and there’s other ideas that are floating around so that we can just give these kids a reward in some way for all their hard work, but we will continue to train for CARIFTA and beyond.”
While officials search for ways to challenge the swimmers, despite the challenges of the pandemic, some athletes have expressed frustration over the lack of events. Stingray Swim Club senior athlete Kyra Rabess, who had qualified for the 2021 CARIFTA championships, said she has been craving competition beyond Cayman’s shores for over a year.
“It is a little bit upsetting because I missed my first year in a new age group and this would be the second year that I’m missing it,” said Rabess.
Though she added she had expected the games to be postponed. “It’s good if we get to go to the CARIFTA Games because we will be competing against different countries. It would be a whole different atmosphere because you won’t be racing the same people over and over again, so you are able to push yourself more.”
BASA said a new date for the games will be announced this month.