Congratulations are due to Grenada, who won the 26th OECS Swimming Championships, which was held in Saint Vincent from 10 to 13 November, 2016, with an astonishing 1152 points. Antigua and Barbuda placed second (931.5 points), and Saint Lucia swam to a respectable third place (856 points) in the light of stiff competition also from the British Virgin Islands, Martinique, the host nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as a guest team from Saint Maarten.
The Saint Lucia National Team’s travel got off to a bumpy start. In response to the inclement weather, authorities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had to close a flooded E. T. Joshua Airport for a day, and the team was stuck en route in Barbados. They were looked after well by Team Manager Eldris Mauricette and helpful LIAT staff. Despite reaching one day later than scheduled, swimmers quickly refocused on the competition.
Overall, team St Lucia won 30 gold, 19 silver, and 12 bronze medals and broke 19 OECS records. The most outstanding swimmers of individual pool events were Katie Kyle (girls, 13-14) with eight gold and one silver medal, D’Andre Blanchard (boys, 9-10) with seven gold and one bronze medal, Therron Herelle (boys, 8 & under) and Naima Hazell (girls 9-10), each with four gold and two silver medals, Antoine Destang (boys 8 and under) with two gold and five silver medals, Mikaili Charlemagne (girls, 11-12) with one gold and two silver medals, Karic Charles (boys, 8 & under) with a gold and a bronze medal, Mikaela Casimir (girls 15-17) with two silver and a bronze medal, Jayhan Odlum-Smith (boys 13-14) with a silver and a bronze medal, Anya Hilaire (girls, 9-10) one silver, Naekeisha Louis (girls 9-10) and Vanessa Eugene (women 18 & over) with two bronze medals each, as well as Allandre Cross (Boys 11-12) and Terell Monplaisir (boys 13-14) one bronze medal each.
New individual OECS records were set by Therron Herelle over 100m freestyle, 100m IM, and 25m back stroke; Antoine Destang over 25m fly; Katie Kyle over 100m fly, 50m back and 100m back stroke; and Naima Hazell over 50m freestyle, 50m breast stroke, , as well as 100m IM.
Saint Lucia’s young boys (8 & under) were a force to be reckoned with. They came for a clean sweep of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the 25m fly, with Antoine Destang taking gold and setting a new OECS record, Therron Herelle winning silver and Karic Charles bronze. Together with D’Andre Blanchard, these same boys brought home gold in the 200m medley relay in the ’10 & under’ age group.
The most successful relay swimmers were Jorja Mederick, Naima Hazell, Naekeisha Louis, and Anya Hilaire (girls 10 & under) with gold medals in two record-breaking performances in the 200m medley relay as well as the 200 m freestyle. The boys ‘10 & under’ took silver and bronze, respectively, in these events. Both girls and boys aged 11-14 took silver in the 200 freestyle relay and bronze in the medley relay. Relay medalists were Antoine Destang, Therron Herelle, D’Andre Blanchard, Karic Charles, and Nathan Vigier (boys 10 & under); Mikaili Charlemagne, Katie Kyle, Eden Crick, Veronica Brown, and Mya Peter (girls 11-14), Terell Monplaisir, Jayhan Odlum-Smith, Jamarr Archibald, and Devin Boodha (boys 11-14).
Veronica Brown (girls 13-14) was Saint Lucia’s only competitor in the Open Water competition, where she swam 5 kilometres (over 3.1 miles).
Overall, swimmers and coaches were pleased with Saint Lucia’s performance despite challenges with air travel and several athletes’ health. Most swimmers improved their personal best times and collected points towards St Lucia’s score. The adventurous trip strengthened the swimmers’ character and life skills. Anya Hilaire (10) reflected: “This meet was rocky at the start with the delay at the airport and all the rain … but on the last day there was a lot of cheering. I really enjoyed the relays; the vibe was really nice … The hotel and breakfast was very organized”. Ziv Reynolds (11) added: “The best thing about the meet was that I got best times in everything and stayed with my friends. The worst thing was us having to stay in Barbados for almost 15 hours – that really sucked … But overall, it was a great experience and I hope to do it again”.
The Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association (SLASA) thanks swimmers, their parents and supporters, coaches, team manager, chaperones and sponsors for their efforts towards our National Team’s performance at the OECS Swimming Championships in Saint Vincent.
Photo caption: Katie Kyle (girls, 13-14) was Saint Lucia’s most outstanding performer in the OECS swimming championship, taking eight gold and one silver medal, and setting three new records.