THE Gros Islet Human Resource Centre, Vladimir Lucien Theatre was a hive of swimming activities this past Sunday 26th January when the Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation (SLAF) held its Annual Awards Ceremony under the theme, ‘Dig Deep, Dream Bigger’.
The evening saw elite athlete Antoine Destang, who is currently attending college in Canada and Naima Hazell a student at the International School capturing the junior male and female Swimmer of the Year titles; while Mikaili Charlemange and Jayhan Odlum-Smith, both overseas studying at the moment, were awarded the senior male and female Swimmer of the Year awards. The pair had an exceptional and exciting 2019 in the pool.
The evening also saw a number of swimmers receiving certificates and trophies in various categories to include participants at the following swim championships: CARIFTA, CCCAN, Goodwill, FINA Juniors and Worlds and OECS Swim Championship.
Hosting the ceremony were two parents of swimmers namely Jeannot Walters Sr and Nickler Paul both from the Lightning Aquatics Swim Club.
In attendance were SLAF President Eddie Hazell and the entire executive; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Benson Emile; Sports Director, Patrick Mathurin; President of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC Inc.), Fortuna Belrose, SLOC Inc. General Secretary, Alfred Emmanuel, Keynote Speaker, Francis Daniel; 2019 Miss Gros Islet Carnival Queen, Kersandra Edwards; specially invited guests to include parents; awardees and members of the media.
The presentation got undwerway with the recognition of swimmers who participated in the various swim championships.
President Eddie Hazell expressed his gratitude to the parents and swimmers for their efforts over the past year and gave special recognition to the sponsors who assisted whenever needed.
He said, “Last year’s theme “Unleash the Greatness” beautifully described the journey that swimming took over the years managed by this executive. This year’s theme: “Dig Deep” encompasses my earlier remarks with emphasis on the ASK of our swimmers. The ask is great and the onus is on them to perform. You need to Dig deep”.
“This administration of which I am so proud to be a part of and to lead, was not elected to get involved in the politics of sport developments but to create and administer policies for the development of swimming. We have thus far implemented various programmes to enhance the growth, functionality and awareness of the importance of swimming (both as a sport and leisure) to our children and the nation”.
Hazell continued, “One major hindrance is the lack of facilities to support the programme. We reported to you last year of major plans for the erection of pools in strategic areas to support our programmes. To date, all the ground work in terms of securing various sites, drawings and designs with approvals, and most importantly pool costings to include equipment and installation are in place. The pools will be supplied and installed by reknowned pool designer and installer Mytha Pool. Assigned to the projects is Saint Lucian born Julien Brice, technical engineer of Mytha. He was a prolific swimmer for Saint Lucia”.
“I want you to know that great moments are born from great opportunities, and by making the sacrifice it will help those opportunities become great moments which will now provide the motivation to achieve the impossible,” he said.
According to Hazell: “I critized this organization last year for not having what I called the foresight to allow the sport to grow with you. Glad to report to date, we have seen some traction which we are hoping that many of you will benefit from when the time is right in terms of scholarships”.
We have achieved a lot in the shortest possible time; our limitations and challenges are endless but we have to face them. I am honoured and very thankful to have a team of dedicated members who share the same vision and have the identical passion in developing the sport of swimming not for themselves but those young athletes that need our help to fulfill their dreams”.
“Our mandate is all about you the swimmers and the development of the sport you love. It’s not about one person, and that’s the journey we’re on; It’s all about the prize at the end,” he noted.
The evening certainly belonged to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Benson Emile who delivered what the SLAF and its members wanted to hear for a long time, the “bombshell”. He said, “The theme for the ceremony today, ‘Dig Deep, Dream Bigger’ calls for you to dream, but no dream is realized without hard work and perseverance. The SLAF has made their dream to have a swim facility which they can call home well known”.
Emile continued, “They have planned and made all representations to make this dream become real. As a Ministry, and by extension a government, we are committed to partnering with you and take joint ownership of this dream, “the Saint Lucia Aquatic Centre” and like you we are committing to getting this facility built in time to host the Carifta Swim Championship, which Saint Lucia has won the bid to host”. There was thunderous applause by those present.
“To date the concepts and plans are being finalized and advance discussions are being held with local and international suppliers for the procurement of necessary services, fixtures and equipment. What was not finalized just recently though, is how the facility will be financed”. With these words, everyone went silent and all the smiles disappeared, as whispers of “not again” broke the silence.
The smiles suddenly came back when Emile said, “I wish to announce, that after rounds of discussions with the Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, we agreed and the Prime Minister approved a financing path for the cost of the Saint Lucia Aquatic Centre (SLAC)”.
“We seek to engage your federation in the days ahead and form a steering committee to guide the timely and successful implementation of this project. The SLAC is happening”.
Keynote Speaker Francis Daniel in his address said, “Always be present, as in be focused. Fully engage your thoughts in the activity at hand. The world presents us with many distractions that inhibit us from learning the lessons at hand. Cell phones, tablets, and troublesome/mischievous friends come to mind. I have learnt that one must remain focused on the activity/lessons being presented to stand any chance of personal growth”.
Speaking to the young swimmers in attendance he noted, “While in class focus on your studies, while at swimming classes focus on swimming lesson, while with family and friends focus on their company; participate, learn, grow”.
These were just some of Francis’ words of advice to the young aspiring swimmers in his 24 minute delivery at the podium.
In other awards presented: Stroke – Fly, Jayhan Odlum – Smith and Mikaili Charlemagne; Breast – Terrel Monplaisir and Naima Hazell; Back – Terrel Monplaisir and Mikaili Charlemangne; Free – Jen Luc Zephir and Mikaili Charlemange; Individual Medley (IM) – Tristan Norville.
Top Winners Age Group: 8 and Under – James Sylvester and Helen Kabiye; 9-10, Fayth Jeffrey and Antoine Destang; 11-12, D’ Andre Blanchard and Naima Hazell 15 -17, JayhanOdlum – Smith and MikailiCharlemange; 18 and Over, Jean Luc Zephir and Siona Huxley.
Administrator of the Year – President of Lighting Aquatics Swim Club, Tessa Charles – Louis; Club of the Year – Lighting Aquatics Swim Club; Technical Official of the Year – Diane Worell, RHAC; Coach of the Year – Brian Charles, Seajays; Pat Charles Award – David Peterkin, Sharks.