Port Royal divers have Olympic dream
Teen social-media influencers merge gaming and swimming
Having to tackle the rough seas from as early as four years old has ignited a spirit of camaraderie among a group of teenage social-media influencers from Port Royal, who have achieved the status of being pro gamers and are eager to make a splash for Jamaica in water sports at the Olympics someday.
The club of about seven, aged 16-19, has a successful vlog that documents the escapades of the teens living in Jamaica’s most historic town.
Their most successful vlog episode, which shows off their swimming and diving skills, has received 47,000 views in two months. Subscribers include tourists who sometimes donate money as their appetites for videos showcasing island life are satiated by the adventurous teens.
Before their JAPROS family vlog, the youths developed their JAPROS4LIFE YouTube channel, which has 27,000 subscribers. What was once just another avenue for them to enjoy life and fuel competitive energy has since morphed into a successful side job, which has seen them tapping other skills such as videography, video-editing, and live-streaming. They intend to use the funds acquired so far to start a business in the future.
Jhaziel Robinson, 16, has been ranked the best Free Fire gamer in Jamaica. The Kingston College 10th-grader juggles online classes and mastering the game. He and his friends have now achieved pro-status and are followed by thousands of local students who have turned to online gaming as violence and COVID-19 restrictions force them to stay indoors.
Garena Free Fire is an online adventure game that is played in the third person. The game consists of up to 50 players who battle each other as they go in search of weapons. Free Fire representatives met with the group through Google Meet and have officially designated them influencers, and now provide them with gifts and information to pass on to their subscribers.
“You have to use your brain; you have to have patience. While all of them a rush and thing, you just deh behind a building calm [because] they are not expecting you to be right there,” said Robinson, who has earned the nickname ‘Killer’.
Robinson’s mother is a nail technician and a waitress, who prefers him to stay indoors and study, while his father, a barber, wants him to be more outdoorsy.
The teen, who wants to be an architect and businessman, has managed to achieve a balance by attending online classes in the mornings, playing games afterwards, and then swimming with his friends in the evenings.
At least three of Robinson’s friends would like to join the army.
Thadius Brown, 19, has been inspired by his two older brothers, both in their early 20s, who are currently members of the Jamaica Defence Force.
Being the more senior in JAPROS, he has been the glue that has kept the crew together. Between gaming and swimming, there is also football, running competitions, and much adventure.
“When we were younger, you know our parents and our brothers used to carry us down to the seaside and they would throw us off or carry us in the water and teach us how to swim,” he recounted.
LOTS OF FUN
Today, they feel like they can do the impossible, and now spend at least four hours daily in the water frolicking, diving from old ships, exploring Jamaica’s once-notorious pirates enclave, and having fun.
“We like the beach when it is rough. We don’t like it when it’s calm; it’s boring,” said 18-year-old Prince Bryan.
“We could all a dead fi hungry inna the water, wi still a swim, still a enjoy wiself,” said Bryan, who is also very good at fishing.
Just a few minutes before while he was padding in the water, a stingray slithered towards him. These sea creatures and sharks are their only concern.
Ronaldinho Brown, 18, a former Vauxhall High student, is considered the fittest among his peers. They say he is the best in freestyle, fishing, diving, football, and athletics, while 16-year-old Omarion Muirhead, who has the least interest in gaming, is rated for greatest endurance underwater and on land.
Bryan is a skilled video editor, while 18-year-old Gary Henry is the videographer who shoots all their films for upload.
“From mi little I have been taking pictures and I realise that when we go party or we go somewhere, I would always take the pictures, like they would say I have the better angle, so I start adapt to the camera and like photography and all,” said Henry.
Their ultimate goal is to become professional swimmers.
“We would like to go on the Jamaican swimming team, because as you can see later in the video, we are fast and it’s natural talent.
“We don’t train none at all. We don’t have no coach, no training, nothing, just natural talent,” said Brown.
The all-male crew watch the Olympics and other sporting competitions together and are disappointed that more Jamaicans don’t represent the country in water sports.
“Some of them uptown swimmers born with maybe pool inna them house and them yard and their parents would carry them training because they want them to learn to swim,” said Brown.
“We get raw talent, so if we get training, basically you could all watch us on TV a swim for Jamaica.”