From beach to starting off docks, BVI swimmers grab 10 medals | Island Sun

From beach to starting off docks, BVI swimmers grab 10 medals

Caption: BVI Swimmers at the USVI National Championships in St.Thomas

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

From swimming on Long Bay, Beef Island and in Cane Garden Bay where they also dive off the dock to practice their starts and swimming in Nanny Cay Pool, 11 BVI swimmers earned 10 medals in the USVI National Championships in St. Thomas, including  eight year old Hannah Kazembe’s gold in the 25m Free. They also expressed their desires to see a pool in the territory.

The team also had four 2nd place finishes, five 3rd place finishes as well as recording eight personal bests, from their season opening meet on Oct 1.  Naya Bissoondutt (Girls 8 &Under) 25m Freestyle, 28.84 seconds, an improvement of 1.42 seconds. Hannah Kazembe, Girls 8 & Under 25m Freestyle, 24.69, improved by 3.04 seconds. Jaden Maduro, Boys 9-10 50m Freestyle,  46.48, improved by 5.54 seconds. Jack Morris, Boys 13-15, 50m Breaststroke:,49.03, improved by 3.89 seconds.  Eljay Scatliffe, Boys 11-12 50m Freestyle, 42.19, improved by 4.92 seconds & 50m Breaststroke, 54.09, improved by 3.42 seconds. Niklaus Vergel, Boys 13-15, 50m Freestyle, 35.40 improved by 2.05 seconds & 50m Breaststroke, 51.88, improved by 8.45 seconds.

As guests on last Thursday’s Sports Beat Magazine, they spoke about what having a pool in the territory would mean.

“I would like to see us having our own pool, hosting competitions and winning,” Scatliffe said. “it will help the development of the sport because we’ll always be accustomed to the pool, so that when we go elsewhere, there’ll be nothing different.”

Kazembe, 8, who started as a 2-year old, said having a pool would allow them to practice more and learn to dive off properly, while Morris said he’d like to see the BVI become one of the top swimming countries.

“It will push people to be better. We just have the ocean. We can’t practice turns,” he said. “If we have a pool, we can swim faster, time our swims and how long you can be underwater for.”

Vergel said he’d like to see BVI getting on the map in swimming and like Scatlfffe said, they won’t have to make adjustments when they compete in another pool.

Coach Rebecca Nockolds said it would be a “massive help” to the swimmers and the community—not just for competitive swimming but swimming in general—with people learning to swim then getting into competitive swimming, as 25m pool on Tortola and Virgin Gorda can get the community swimming, which leads to build a program.

“One of the biggest challenges at the moment is practicing the touches, their turns and their starts,” Nockolds said. “One of the St. Croix coaches said she could see our swimmers train at the beach because she could see a strength not normally seen in a pool. They’re strong, but technically the turns and the dives are the things we need to improve on, so that’s where a pool can really help.”

While they have access to the Nanny Cay Pool, another challenge they face is starting. She said it was a big transition for them coming from Dolphin dives, standing on the beach and diving into the waves.

“One thing I think really helped their confidence in being able to dive off a block, is when we practice in Cane Garden Bay, we often go on the dock which is quite high off the water and they’ll dive off the dock there, which I think really helps,” Nockolds said. “When they got on to the block, they didn’t see it as being really high or too scary because they’ve been diving off the docks all of their lives and they’re used to going off a high platform and that way, the dock really helps.”

She added: “But in terms of the actual blocks and having the grip behind your foot and adjusting it to each of their heights and levels, that was a learning experience for all of them and they’re still trying to figure out where to place the block and which number is good for their height. In Nanny Cay when they’re diving in, they’ll often put a foot behind their teammate’s back foot, so that they don’t slip, when they dive into the pool.”  

Nockols said the community can assist the program by helping them to get to St. Thomas to train ahead of their February competition.