GRENADA retained the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Swimming Championship which ended in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines this past Sunday.
The Spice Islanders amassed 1152 points, 221 points clear of second place finisher Antigua and Barbuda (931.5 points). Saint Lucia was third place (856 points).
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 well looked after by Team Manager EldrisMauricette and helpful LIAT staff. Despite reaching one day later than scheduled, swimmers quickly refocused on the competition.
Overall, team Saint 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, TherronHerelle (boys, 8 and 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 and under) with a gold and a bronze medal, Mikaela Casimir (girls 15-17) with two silver and a bronze medal, JayhanOdlum-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 TerellMonplaisir (boys 13-14) one bronze medal each.
New individual OECS records were set by TherronHerelle 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 and 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, TherronHerelle 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 and under age group.
The most successful relay swimmers were JorjaMederick, 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, TherronHerelle, 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), TerellMonplaisir, JayhanOdlum-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 Saint 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”.