Cayman to send largest ever swim team to CARIFTA

A total of 31 swimmers will represent the Cayman Islands at the 2017 CARIFTA 50-Metre Pool and Open Water Swimming Championships from 15-19 April in the Bahamas. This is the largest contingent to represent the islands at the top Caribbean meet.

The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA) announced the team in an email to media houses Sunday night, 26 February.

Among those scheduled to make the trip is Sabine Ellison, who won four gold medals and a silver last year in Martinique. Lauren Hew, who won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke last year is on the team again, as is John Bodden, who won open water gold in 2016.

Joining them are nine rookies: Allyson Belfonte, Carmella Ylagan, Kyra Rabess, Rya Embury-Brown, Sophie Ackerly, Sophie Ellison, Jackson Haywood-Crouch, Stefano Bonati and Ethan Smith.

Swimmers have been training hard, as evidenced by the CIASA, National and Club records which fell last weekend at the Cayman Islands National Swimming Championships. Based on a review of qualifying times, athletes’ compliance with training and eligibility requirements, coaches made a recommendation to CIASA and the Team Roster was agreed and ratified by the CIASA Board of Directors on 23 February.

“This has been already been an exciting season for so many Cayman Islands swimmers. We have seen an incredible amount of improvement and success; and we are expecting more great swims as well at CARIFTA,” said CIASA Technical Director Bailey Weathers, who will accompany the team as manager and assistant coach.

CIASA President Michael Lockwood

CIASA President Michael Lockwood, a competitive swimmer in his youth and now a masters swimmer, was delighted with the announcement of the team.

“The CARIFTA 2017 qualification times were announced in September 2016, with the qualification process being tweaked just a little to acknowledge the increasing number of swimmers achieving the faster qualification times. Swimmers were required to achieve a minimum of two qualification times. This requirement notwithstanding, we have seen some outstanding results and this year CIASA is proud to announce a team of 31 swimmers will attend CARIFTA 2017. This is the largest swimming delegation ever,” Lockwood said.

The full team:

11-12 Girls: Allyson Belfonte, Avery Lambert, Carmella Ylagan, Kyra Rabess, Raya Embury-Brown, Sophie Ackerly, Sophie Ellison, Stephanie Royston.

11-12 Boys: Cory Frederick-Westerborg, Finn Bishop, Jackson Haywood-Crouch, Stefano Bonati, Ethan Smith.

13-14 Girls: Alison Jackson, Emily Link, Holly Stradling, Ria Plunkett, Sabine Ellison.

13-14 Boys: Jake Bailey, Jordan Crooks, Zachary Moore.

15-17 Girls: Ella Plunkett, Lauren Hew, Sam Bailey, Sarah Jackson.

15-17 Boys: Alex Dakers, Eddie Weber, John Bodden, Jonathan Key, Liam Henry, Rory Barrett.

Associate Head Coaches Caleb Miller and David Pursley will accompany the CARIFTA Team travelling to the Bahamas.

The CARIFTA Squad will have a training camp, which brings the athletes together as a team for pool training and team building. The training camp is in addition to the swimmers’ regular club training and focuses on common technical aspects of their swims such as starts, turns and relay changes.

“I would like to congratulate all of our swimmers,” said Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden. “Swimming requires incredible commitment, discipline and focus … and many early hours at the pool.”

He also thanked parents for the support and often referenced ‘swim taxi service’ which they provide.

Last year, 22 swimmers were selected to the CARIFTA team. Cayman won seven gold medals, two silvers and one bronze in Martinique.

CIASA extended special thanks to the Cayman Islands Government and Maples for their support every year which has helped make the position of Technical Director possible, providing swimming in Cayman with a growth strategy which is seeing continued positive growth.

“Additionally, Davenport Development is into its third of a three year commitment to help fund representative team events and DART, through its sponsorship of the recent National Championships also supports the Junior Representative Team,” a CIASA representative said in a statement.

CIASA said it is pleased to be able to provide much of the funding for this trip, from funds raised at the recent Gala Fundraising Dinner with Cayman’s own home grown Olympian Brett Fraser, raffle ticket sales and the Third Annual CIASA golf tournament held on 24 February.

“However, with such a large team travelling, the team and parents will also be pulling together to raise additional funds for the trip. In addition to travel expenses, there will be additional costs for accommodations, meals and gear, so please — when you see a swimmer approaching with a raffle ticket book in hand — be generous,” the CIASA rep said.

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