THE QUEST to return to the top of the Carifta Aquatics Championship podium will begin for TT swimmers today. The country is being represented by 36 athletes, competing in six divisions, at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Wildey, Bridgetown.
Heats are scheduled for 9 am this morning and the first set of finals will splash off at 6pm. There will be an opening ceremony at 5.30pm.
The swimming events will resume with more heats each morning and finals every evening, until the pool events are brought to a close on Tuesday night. There will be open water swim on Wednesday.
Zoe Anthony, Nikoli Blackman, Josiah Changar, Jada Chatoor and Malik Nelson will compete in both competitions.
The swimmers, both pool and open water, will be hoping to replicate the performances put on by TT's four teams at the water polo segment of the Carifta Aquatic Championship, where TT regained its status as regional leader in the sport, winning three gold medals and one silver.
Stiff competition in the water polo event was lacking, however, as the 19-and-Under girls division, for example, featured only two teams – TT and the hosts, Barbados, who played each other three times.
However, there will be larger participation in the swimming and open water events and TT's swimmers will have to be at their very best to dominate like their water polo compatriots.
While there were a number of highlight performers for TT at the last Carifta Aquatics Championship, none stood out like Zarek Wilson, who swam in the boys 11-12 division and picked up an incredible nine gold medals and one silver, including a record-breaking performance in the 400m freestyle final, where he clocked 4:27.78. He also won the 100m and 200m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke, 200m and 400m individual medley, 200m butterfly, 200m backstroke, and silver in the 100m butterfly.
Wilson and his friendly rival Nikoli Blackman have both since advanced to the 13-14 division, and will be keen to maintain winning momentum at Carifta.
Girls 11-12: Amelia Rajack, Amari Ash, Madara Edwards, Lyla Browne and Joy Blackett.
Boys 11-12: Giovanni Rivas and Zachary Anthony.
Girls 13-14: Gabrielle Vickles, Zoe Anthony, Neishalah Caseman, Arielle Dickson, Naomi Walters and Caitlyn Look Fong.
Boys 13-14: Zarek Wilson, Nikoli Blackman, Kadon Williams, Josiah Changar, Johann-Matthew Matamoro, Kyle West, Riquelio Joseph and Aron Stuart.
Girls 15-17: Danielle Williams, Deshor Edwards, Jada Chatoor, AnneLiese Merry, Jada Chai, Vrisnelit Faure, Brianna Bocage and Gabriela Donahue.
Boys 15-17: Gabriel Bynoe, Aqeel Joseph, Malik Nelson, Delroy Tyrrell, Luke Gillette and William Reyes.
Head Coach: Brian Wickham.
Assistant Coaches: Mark Alexis and Sharntelle Mc Lean.
Chaperones: Lilas Solomon-Stuart and Keith Matamoro.
Open Water squad:
14-15 Girls: Zoe Anthony
14-15 Boys: Nikoli Blackman, Marquise Nelson and Josiah Changar.
16-18 Girls: Jada Chatoor, Gabriella Acosta and Dominique Nurse-Allen.
16-18 Boys: Malik Nelson, Jared DeSilva and Adam Suite.
Head Coach: Mr. Maurice Faria