The depth of available swimmers proved vital as Trinidad and Tobago claimed the overall title, for the fourth successive year, at the Goodwill Swim Meet.
This year’s competition took place from Friday until Sunday at the National Aquatic Centre, Guyana, and featured the usual participants – TT, Suriname, Barbados, St Lucia and Guyana, as well as Grenada and the Bahamas.
In the points standings, TT finished with 1,322, followed by Suriname (1,289), Guyana (868.5), Bahamas (805), Barbados (445), St Lucia (314.5) and Grenada (20).
Coach of the 40-member team was ex-national swimmer Sharntelle McLean, who highlighted the depth and the quality of the 2017 squad.
“The other countries are getting stronger,” said McLean yesterday, upon the team’s return home at the Piarco International Airport.
“So every time we go, and every time we win, (we) become the target and they’re coming after us, and each time we get more competition.
“But the swimmers that we have, the quality and the depth that we have, I think we’ll come out on top. Everyone got a medal.”
Continuing on her point about the depth in the TT team, McLean noted, “It continues the streak that we’ve had from since CARIFTA, coming down to CCCAN and the Commonwealth Youth Games, and now Goodwill. We are definitely a force.”
The Goodwill Swim Meet features competitors all under the age of 18, and is used as a developmental event for some of the region’s aspiring swimmers.
“The Goodwill Swim Meet is a great experience for the younger ones,” said McLean. “And that shows that we have the pool of talent, the pool of swimmers, to come up (and excel).”
Reflecting on the experience in Guyana, the former Olympian (2004 and 2008 Games in Athens, Greece and Beijing, China respectively) stated, “It’s definitely a great achievement.”
McLean pointed out that the humid conditions in Guyana was a factor, but, “The management team we had, we were really supportive.
We checked for the swimmers and made sure that they were well hydrated so they can perform.
“It was our target, to make sure that they were well taken care of, in order to perform the duties at hand.” On her new role as a coach, the 33-year-old said, “It’s definitely a difference, and I give all my previous coaches kudos for what they have done.
In fact I know I wasn’t a difficult athlete but, at the same time, it’s a pool of swimmers and a pool of personalities you’re dealing with.”
One of Trinidad and Tobago’s top participants at the three-day event was Joy Blackett, who returned home with 11 medals – two gold, six silver and three bronze.
According to the 11-year-old, who trains with Tidal Wave Aquatics Swim Club, “It feels good. It was very difficult. I said ‘if we really want to win, just push harder so that Trinidad (and Tobago) will win’. And we did.”
Asked about the experience in Guyana, Blackett, who will be entering Form One at Miracle Ministries in Couva, replied, “It was good. It was my second time so I knew I was going to do well.”