Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
The Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) received a major boost ahead of this year's staging of Carifta Swimming and Water Polo championships, when sponsors Digi Point handed them a cheque for US$20,000 (J1.8m) to the association's president, Martin Lyn.
Wade Howell, commercial manager, Digi Point, which is sponsoring the event for the first time, said they are committed to the development of sports across the island.
"We have children in swimming and when the call came from the ASAJ to provide support for swimming we had no problems saying yes," said Howell, during yesterday's launch of the championships, which was held at the National Stadium Pool.
"This is something that we want to do, not necessarily because of our company but we believe in swimming," he said.
Howell added: "This is absolutely an opportunity for us to help develop sports in Jamaica. We are the first sponsors on board for Carifta this year and we hope that this significant amount of money will bump up the rest of Jamaica to get behind swimming and Carifta 2013, so that we can a have great championships."
Lyn expressed delight at the sponsorship, but said his association still needs a further $13 million to stage this year's championships.
"This sponsorships is excellent because the fact of the matter is that this is the first major sponsor that has come on board," said Lyn.
"It's a good sign well in advance of the Carifta Games to have such a sponsor come on board. The reality is that we need more, but this is a good start as we need another major sponsor to come on board," Lyn said.
Jamaica won 32 medals at the last Carifta Games, which was held in The Bahamas last year, and Lyn added that he is expecting a much better performance at home.
"The expectations are high because Jamaica did well in The Bahamas, and now we will be at home where we will have home fans cheering, and so I expect us to do very well in this Carifta Games," Lyn said.
The championships will see more than 500 athletes from 21 countries participating in swimming, water polo and for the first time in Jamaica, open water swimming, which will be held in Discovery Bay, St Ann, on the final day of the championships.
Four-time Olympian Alia Atkinson will be this year's patron of the championships.