The trio of Mc Leod brothers, Olympian David, Joshua and Abraham along with USA-based Alexandria Donahue will spear-head this country’s medal hopes, when the 2015 edition of the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships splashes off at the National Aquatic Centre, Wildey, Christ Church, Barbados from today until Saturday.
Two years ago when the event was held in San Jose, Costa Rica, Joshua Mc Leod and Florida-based Christian Homer both won three individual gold medals while Donahue took home two, in helping T&T to a tally of 34 medals overall (16 gold, seven silver and 11 bronze) and the highest place on the table of any English-speaking country, seventh and with 433 points for sixth.
Venezuela emerged as champions with 1, 067 points well clear of Costa Rica (711) and Guatemala (497), while Honduras was fourth with 473 and Aruba fifth (450). T&T was next ahead of Barbados (362) and Bahamas (292). In terms of medals, the Venezuela won a whopping 94 (42 gold, 27 silver and 25 bronze), while T&T followed by Hoduras with 35 (11 gold, 12 silver, 12 bronze), Aruba with 37 (ten gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze) and Guatemala with 26 (ten gold, nine silver and seven bronze).
Other medal winners from two years back to bolster the T&T swim squad, which has Paul Newallo as head coach, are Abraham Mc Leod and Kael Yorke who had one golden swim each.
However, this time around, Homer is not part of the T&T squad along with Kristien Julien (two gold) and Cherelle Thompson, another individual gold winner from 2013. But the T&T squad will benefit from the inclusion of Donahue’s younger sister Gabriela who will compete in the 11 to 12 age-group This year’s event will be void of swimmers from Venezuela and Mexico.
When swimming gets going from 9 am today, Yorke and Gabriela will be first in action in the 100m backstroke heats followed by Graham Chatoor in the 800m freestyle. Gabriela also swims in the 200m breaststroke while her elder sister Alexandria goes in the 100m breaststroke with Abraham Mc Leod.
Yorke will return to the pool for the 50m freestyle heats with Jeron Thompson while the trio of Alexandria, Vrisnelit Faure and Thompson face the starter in their respective age-group 200m individual medley events ahead of the medley relays. The Open Water competition comes off from June 27 to 30 and the seven-member T&T squad for the 5K and events will depart T&T on Friday along with coach Hazel Haynes at the helm.
But, they will be without top medal hope in Christian Marsden as he focuses on his preparations for next month’s Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. In addition to host Barbados and T&T, the other countries listed to compete from today are Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Panama, Suriname, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Honduras, US Virgin Islands, Curacao, Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada and Aruba.
T&T CCCAN swim team
• 11-12: Jada Chatoor, Gabriela Donahue
• 13-14: Vrisnelit Faure, Racine Ross
• 15-17: Amira Pilgrim, Ariel Cape
•18 & over: Alexandria “Allie” Donahue
•11-12: Aqeel Joseph
• 13-14: Kael Yorke, Graham Chatoor, Luke Gillette, Jeron Thompson
• 15-17: Bradley Thomas, Justin Samlalsingh
• 18 & over: Strasser Sankar, Christian Awah, Joshua Mc Leod, Abraham Mc Leod, David Mc Leod
• Paul Newallo (coach), Brian Wickham (assistant coach), Shastri Sankar (manager), Lyder George (chaperone).
Open Water team
• Girls 14-17: Sabrina David, Briana Patterson, Chisara Santana
• Boys 14-17: Gabriel Bynoe, Sebastian Marchand
• Boys 18 & over: Aleem Mohammed, Keanu Otero
• Hazel Haynes (coach), Bertram Blackman (chaperone)