Cayman’s amateur swimmer Jake Bailey has accepted an academic scholarship from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a US Division I school.
“It’s a great opportunity because it allows me to compete at an almost elite level with so many other top level collegiate athletes,” Bailey told the Cayman Compass.
Bailey, 17, has represented Cayman at the CCCAN and the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, medalling at both. He has also made his mark in the CUC Sea swim, winning the 800-metre open race on two separate occasions.
Bailey has competed for Stingray Swim Club over the past six years, under the guidance of head coach David Pursley, who praised his athlete for all his hard work.
“He didn’t get this far based off talent,” Pursley told the Compass. “He got this because of the work he put in. He has [had] 100% practice attendance for the last two years. He hasn’t missed a single practice; that’s nine practices a week for two years.”
Bailey’s dedication to swimming and a proven track record has led Pursley to believe that his athlete is only just getting started.
“He should be an asset to the team in his very first year and if he continues to improve on the trajectory that he has been on over the last two years, then he’s going to have a really successful college career,” Pursley said.
Bailey echoed Pursley’s expectations, saying he has his sights set on becoming the best possible swimmer during his four years at UMass.
“I’ll be aiming to get as high in my team as I can because I’m sure there is quite a few swimmers there that are faster than me,” said Bailey. “So, my goal is to try and compete with them, and get to the top level.”
Bailey will begin his freshman year in August, studying pre-med and kinesiology.