Sat | Nov 28, 2020

Swim clubs adjusting to calendar reshuffle

Published:Saturday | October 24, 2020 | 12:12 AM
The National Aquatic Centre at Independence Park, Kingston.
The National Aquatic Centre at Independence Park, Kingston.

Despite the rescheduling of swimming events because of the coronavirus pandemic, Tornadoes Swim Club coach Wendy Lee and ‘Y’ Speedos coach Gillian Millwood say that the setbacks have not hindered the preparation of their athletes.

The competitions that have been postponed include the Commonwealth Youth Games, which have been pushed back to a date in 2023. The tournament which was supposed to take place from August 1 to 7, 2021 in Trinidad and Tobago was moved by the Commonwealth Games Federation in May because of the dates overlapping with the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. The Carifta Aquatic Championships for last April were also postponed.


While the absence of events has forced athletes and coaches to adjust to the new realities, Lee has targeted potential events next year for possible returns to high-level competitions, should the situation improve.

“[It’s] very disappointing but it’s not going to deter us because there are other junior games,” Lee said. “Pan American Juniors is next year so that really was our goal. It’s a step back and, yes, it’s a disappointment but it’s not going to stop us from trying to be the best that we can be.”

Locally, no events have been held since March with the National Aquatic Centre (NAC) having to close down for five months. The facility reopened in August under strict health protocols with only training for national and club swimmers.

Millwood says that despite the setback, there is no need for local stakeholders to be apprehensive about the uncertainty of the upcoming swimming calendar.

“Particular meets are gone but the time is still there,” she said. “The access to the pool is still there, so you can still create a racing environment. I think it’s crucial for coaches and athletes not to panic when these decisions are made. You just get to the solution finding as quickly as you can.”

That solution finding in Lee’s case has come in the form of virtual meets. She says Tornadoes were invited by Horizon Swim Club in California to participate in virtual races against teams from the United States, Taiwan, and New Zealand. During training sessions at the NAC, times for various events were being uploaded and compared.

Lee said that the exercise has been beneficial for the athletes and that it was a confidence builder.

“We placed third among the 11 teams,” she said. “The New Zealand team that came first has Olympians on it, so we feel very happy about where we are right now. We are taking it one day at a time, one step at a time.”