2016 – Best Year So Far For Swimming

Image: President SLASA Carol Mangal. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)

PRESIDENT of the Saint Lucia Amateur Swimming Association, Carol Mangal, says 2016 was the best year so far and hopes the sport can continue to grow. This year will be a busy one for the new executive despite Saint Lucia not hosting any sub-regional event. But Saint Lucian swimmers can look forward to a number of regional and international swim meets nonetheless.

Mangal spoke to The VOICE about her tenure in office.

Image: President SLASA Carol Mangal. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)
President SLASA Carol Mangal. (PHOTO: Anthony De Beauville)

The VOICE: What are your thoughts on the Training Day Developmental Meet held recently at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre?

Mangal: The meet was set up with the following objectives in mind: to provide an opportunity for our parents to start the year assisting with the running of our meets by acting as timers, learning the various roles of stroke and turn judge, marshals, starters, referees and computer room officials. Since it was the first meet after the Christmas break and our swimmers looked forward to it, we also expected the “Learn to Swim” kids to take part in their very first meet; and swimmers who have decided to return to swimming also used the meet as an opportunity to get back into competition.

The VOICE: Any qualifiers from the Training Day Meet?

Mangal: Seven swimmers had already qualified to participate in CARFITA 2017 prior to the meet. However, no other swimmers qualified at this event.

The VOICE: Your expectations for 2017?

Mangal: Effective February 1, we will start our very first High Performance Swim Team Training. The establishment of a high performance swim team is something that has been discussed at length in the swimming association for many years under many previous executives but never materialized for various reasons, including the lack of funding for the use of lanes in the pool and to pay the coaches.

The criteria for entry and to remain on the team were developed by two of our coaches, Jaime Peterkin and Norman Banfield. To qualify for entry into the High Performance Swim Team, a swimmer must have 1AA time in an Olympic event. The High Performance Team will train on Wednesday and Friday mornings, and on Saturday afternoons at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre. The swimmers on the High Performance Training Team will continue their normal training with their respective clubs, hence the reason for the days and times selected so that during the week they will train for six days.

We hosted our very first Water Polo Clinic for beginners in May last year and 20 people attended, most of whom were Physical Education teachers from our schools.

The VOICE: Any date set for SLASA election?

Mangal: Yes. We recently received confirmation from our World-governing body, FINA, that they have ratified changes to our Constitution which included changing the term of the executive to two years instead of one. Therefore, effective this year the new executive will be in office for two years. We are hoping that parents who have never sat on the executive will offer themselves to serve and take swimming to the next level.

The VOICE: How would you describe 2016?

Mangal: 2016 was certainly one of our best years so far. In February, Jordan Augier won the Sportsman of the Year title for 2015. We introduced Water Polo to PE Teachers in May 2016. In 2014 and 2015, SLASA did not host the Primary and the Secondary Schools Swim Meets but in 2016 we reintroduced those two important events, which were welcomed by our school administrators and students.

We agreed on changes to our constitution at an EGM in May 2016 which allowed future SLASA executives to be more effective in executing their strategies.

Three of our swimmers – Jordan Augier, Jean Luc Zephir and Joshua Runako Daniel — attended two regional qualifying meets for Rio 2016 Olympics but no qualifiers emerged. Therefore, only Augier was able to participate in the 2016 Olympics under a universality placement.

Goodwill 2016 was the largest meet we have ever hosted at the regional level. Approximately 240 swimmers and hundreds of supporters flocked the RHAC for 3 days of competitive swimming in August. All of the participating core members of Goodwill — Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados — indicated at the Congress that this was the best organized Goodwill Swim Meet they had ever attended. Our swimmer, Naima Hazell, was featured in our UANA News for her strong performance in Goodwill where she won gold in the 50-metres freestyle and 50-metres and 100-metres breaststroke. Hazell established two new Goodwill age group records in the 50-metres & 100-metres breaststrokes of 36.66 seconds and 1 minute 21.93 seconds respectively.

At OECS level in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, our swimmer and nominee for Junior Female Sportswoman of the Year 2016, Katie Kyle, was one of the top performers, medaling in all of her events. However, Kyle is not eligible to participate in Goodwill. In December, our swimmers, Jean Luc Zephir, Katie Kyle and Devin Boodha, participated in the 13th FINA Worlds SC Meet in Windsor, Canada. Zephir set two new national records in the 100-metres and 200-metres freestyle of 50.89 seconds and 1 minute 53.79 seconds respectively while Kyle set a new national record of 1 minute 00.46 seconds in the 100-metre freestyle.

Despite the difficulties in sourcing funding, our swimmers participated in every regional and international event on our 2016 calendar and we are thankful to our government, members, supporters, sponsors and the media for their assistance.

The VOICE: What’s the latest on the National Aquatic Facility that was promised for the Commonwealth Youth Games 2017?

Mangal: We have not received any formal communication from the government. We have been advised that the government will in the coming months unveil its strategy for sports and we hope that the Minister for Sports will provide information on the facility at that time.

SLASA is hoping that the government revisits the location for the facility and that it takes into account that we want an aquatic centre which will have maximum usage and which our schools in Castries and the out-districts can access easily. Moreover, having two facilities next to each other will inevitably mean that one will affect the other and we hope that the government holds a discussion with the Swimming Association and its members when deciding on the way forward for the development of aquatics.

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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