Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre hosted the 18th Annual RHAC Invitational from April 6 through April 9 under the theme, “Friendship through Competition”.
This year was a year full of firsts in various measures, starting with a record number of clubs entering the meet which hosted 26 clubs from countries around the region. It was also the first year teams from New York City and Martinique participated and RHAC can boast of having 315 registered swimmers for the pool events.
Orlando Nazario, Head Coach of Abbe Panthers from New York City, was impressed with the meet and performance from the various teams. He commented that when he got back home, he would be adding the event to the team’s calendar for 2018 and hopes to make it an annual event for the club.
Overall, the swimmers had excellent performances, many achieving personal bests and breaking 60 meet records. New meet records were set in the 165 pool events by swimmers from the entire region.
Antoine Destang, age 8, from Sharks Swim Club (St Lucia) achieved new times in 10 events – the maximum number of individual events a swimmer may enter. The youngest record-setter was Noah Dorville, age 6, from Sea Jays Swim Club in the Boys 6 & Under 50-metres butterfly. Rylan Marville, age 8, from HighTide Stingrays Swim Club from Barbados set 5 meet records in her 8 events.
The St. Lucia CARIFTA swim team members who took part also shined throughout the event. Naima Hazell, age 11, set 3 meet records in her 4 events and Katie Kyle, age 14, set one meet record, which was also an age group record.
Terell Monplaisir achieved 4 meet records, including 2 age group records. Jayhan Odlum-Smith had a stellar performance, setting 5 meet records, 3 age group records and 1 national record in the Men’s 1500-metres freestyle, setting a time of 17:36.25.
Brian Charles, Head Coach for the team heading to the Bahamas, stated: “I think the level of competition was high across the age groups and perfect to motivate competition in St Lucia. This meet continues to help grow St Lucia’s swimming. It’s exciting to see St. Lucian swimmers battle head to head with all over the region. It will definitely help to heighten the level of swimming here in the years to come.”
Final results placed Sharks Swim Club (St. Lucia) in first place with a total of 861 points. Sea Jays Swim Club (St. Lucia) followed with 744.5 points and Black Sands Swim Squad (St. Vincent) rounded out the top 3 with 608 points.
Meet Director, Dr. Diane Worrell. Commented: “There can be challenges in organizing a meet this size, but the gratification comes from the smiles on the swimmers’ faces. The rewards are the new meet records and swimmers setting personal bests.”
She was elated by the overwhelming support of the local businesses as well. Bringing over 600 swimmers and spectators on a daily basis had a direct impact on local businesses. Various hotels and guest houses saw direct effects with full or nearly full occupancy. The Rodney Bay basin was directly influenced as well as the various visitors to the event who shopped in the local stores, ate at restaurants, and enjoyed local nightlife.
For the first time, the second component of this meet was an Open Water swim meet hosted through the RHAC Invitational Swim Meet. Held on Monday, April 10 at Reduit Beach, with support from the St. Lucia Yacht Club, the participants of the Open Water portion took to the sand for 500-metres, 1000-metres, 3000-metres, and 5000-metres events.
David Peterkin, of Sharks Swim Club, openly noted that: “Rodney Bay is certainly one of the best bays in the Caribbean. What a beautiful day it was for the meet, near perfect conditions for an event that promises to grow annually. We need to encourage more Open Water in St. Lucia and look forward to the day we can host the Caribbean Open Water Championships.”
The first of this annual event, 45 swimmers registered in the Open Water events. The various events were open to swimmers of all ages. The private sector was encouraged to enter as well. Although the 500-metres was the last event swam, Matthew Hinds, of Pirates Swim Club Barbados, completed the short event in 10:18.00 while Southern Flying Fish swimmer Anyka Holder came in first for the girls at 10:37.00.
Jakob Harrison, of Sharks Swim Club St. Lucia, completed the 1000-metres swim in 17:23.00; for girls it was Amelie Baker of the Pirates Swim Club Barbados who finished in a time of 17:54.00.
One of the youngest participants, Zachary Anthony, age 9, from Marlins Swim Club from Trinidad, came first in the 3000-metres event with a time of 47:00:00. Wadadli Aquatic Racers’ Angelique Gittens swiftly followed with 52:23.00 for the girls. The 5000-metres event was a sweep for Marlins Swim Club Trinidad with Brandon Coombs, Adam Suite, and Jared DeSilva finishing within a few seconds of each other. Luria Gilbert, Schoelcher Natation 2000 Martinique, completed the 5000-metres course in 1:26:16 for the girls.
Excited that the Open Water took place, Meet Director, Dr. Diane Worrell, noted that it was challenging to get it started. She expressed her sincere gratitude to David Peterkin and Edith Clashing for assisting in laying out the course and running the various events. Dr. Worrell further expressed profound appreciation to Solange for being the Mistress of Ceremony.
Special recognition must go out to Martin Monplaisir from 1 Audio Inc for support in DJ’ing and music, as well as Winners TV for live streaming video throughout the 5 days of competition. Management of the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre thanks all volunteers, patrons, sponsors, and staff for another successful event for all. They