Lightning Aquatics Celebrates CARIFTA Performers

AMIDST the superb talent on display by hundreds of swimmers from 26 countries at the recent XXXII CARIFTA Swimming Championship held in the Bahamas from April 15-19, Lightning Aquatics (LA) Swim Club’s Naima Hazell gave an excellent performance at her first CARIFTA meet.

Image: Naima Hazel carrying the Saint Lucia flag with teammate Mikaili Charlemagne. (PHOTO: LASC)
Naima Hazel carrying the Saint Lucia flag with teammate Mikaili Charlemagne. (PHOTO: LASC)

Hazell formed part of a contingent of 7 Saint Lucian swimmers participating in the swimming championship.

Of the 6 races swum, the young warrior achieved personal best times in 3 events. She made Saint Lucia and her team, LA Swim Club, more proud when she battled through the 50-metres breaststroke, which resulted in her copping the bronze medal (entry time: 37.88 and final time 36.56).

This is what Hazell had to say about her CARIFTA experience. We hope her story will inspire young athletes irrespective of their sporting discipline to strive for excellence at all times.

Question: How do you feel about your performance at CARIFTA?

Hazell: “For my first year at CARIFTA in the 11-12 age group, I think that I performed beyond my own expectations and those of my coaches. I gained personal best times and 1 bronze medal. I am happy with my performance.”

Question: What are your aspirations for swimming, say, 4 years from now?

Hazell: “My aspiration 4 years from now is to hopefully be the first 15-year-old Saint Lucian to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for breaststroke”.

Question: Is there anything you would have done differently in any of your races?

Hazell: “I would not do the 50-metres freestyle race just before the 100-metres breaststroke. That killed my performance in the 100-metres breaststroke and I was unable to qualify for finals as I was drained. I put everything into the 50-metres freestyle as it is a very fast race and when it came to me swimming my 100-metres breaststroke, which is my best event, I had no energy left. This was my greatest disappointment as I was really looking forward to making it to the finals because I am positive I would have medaled again.”

“Overall, it was a great experience, the young swimmer added. “I swam against the best swimmers from 26 different countries and achieved 3 personal best times and made it to the podium. This is a great accomplishment. I hope that many of my friends from my club and others will aspire to make it to CARIFTA 2018 in Jamaica as it is a very high-level meet.”

Lightning Aquatic Swim Club President, Tessa Charles-Louis, said, “We are extremely proud of Naima because the competition at CARIFTA was very tough. For her to have made the finals and medal there is an amazing feat for a small island like Saint Lucia where swimmers only have a 25-metres pool at their disposal compared to countries like Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, to name a few”.

Saint Lucia came 14th out of 19 teams. LA congratulates the entire Saint Lucia CARIFTA team which comprised Naima Hazell, Mikaili Charlemagne, Katie Kyle, TerrelMonplaisir, JayhanOdlum-Smith, Jamarr Archibald, and Jyasi Daniel. Special mention must be made of Katie Kyle of Sharks who got silver in the 100-metres butterfly and a bronze in the 50-metres butterfly and TerrelMonplaisir of Sea Jays Swim Club who copped the silver in the 200-metres backstroke.

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