As our great nation of Saint Lucia celebrated its 38th year of Independence, the swimming fraternity joined the celebrations with the “Independence Challenge Swim Meet”, held at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre, on Sunday 26th February. The event was organized by the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association (SLASA) and co-sponsored by the Government of Saint Lucia. Lenard ‘Spider” Montoute, Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, opened the event with encouraging words for athletes and officials alike.
Seven national swim clubs united in sportsmanly competition under this year’s theme: “I am St Lucia”, to underline the unity of all citizens from all backgrounds, creeds, and origins. In the second competition for the year, we saw seasoned swimmers improve their times and many young newcomers establish seed times in their first ever races. With so many young children engaging in the sport of swimming, the future of this sport looks bright in Saint Lucia and water safety of our youth – a survival life skill – is set to improve.
Overall, Sharks Swim Club was most successful on the day. Top performers at the Independence Challenge Swim Meet were Mila Festini Cromer (girls 8 and under), Thaeden Antoine and Noah Dorvile (boys 8 and under), Jermina Odlum Smith (girls 9-10), Therron Herelle (boys 9-10), Naima Hazell (girls, 11-12), Akim Ernest (boys 11-12), Katie Kyle (girls 13-14), Jayhan Odlum-Smith (boys 13-14), Mikaela Casimir (girls 15 and over), and Omar Alexander (boys 15 and over). Katie broke her own age group record, achieving a new national record, swimming the 100m freestyle in 1:00:35, reconfirming that she is in top form for the upcoming regional CARIFTA competition.
The competitive phase of the event was followed by the Unity Relay, a fun event, organized by Meet Director, Lily Bergasse, to exemplify unity among swimmers and clubs under the motto “I am St Lucia” through the power of sports. Teams for this challenge were made up of six girls and boys of any age group from different clubs. Each team member swan 25m in a 6 x 25m freestyle relay, showing team bonding and coordination. In the words of the great Nelson Mandela “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”