ZIV Brendon Aari Reynolds is only 13 years old and already he is making a name for himself in the swimming pool — not only at the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre, but also on the regional scene. The former Camille Henry Memorial School student is presently in Form 2 at St. Mary’s College.
He is currently studying eleven subjects, including English, Geography, Spanish, French, and Integrated Science, and his favourite being Mathematics.
I really love Mathematics because working with numbers excites me. I enjoy solving problems because it makes me think. It is not a difficult subject for me but challenging and I love being challenged,” he said.
Ziv has been a member of Sharks Swim Club for the last two years and is coached by David Peterkin, Andy Edwards and Abbie Pultie.
In the following interview with The VOICE, he tells us more about himself.
The VOICE: How did it all happen for you in swimming?
Ziv: I started swimming from my preschool days at Wee First. It was part of the programme but nothing serious — just for fun. When I attended Camille Henry Memorial, I was introduced to it again in kindergarten but, again nothing serious as every time we attended RHAC there were always new students, so there was no progress.
I stopped for a while and then started going to the Aquatic Centre every Saturday as my mother felt that I needed to learn properly since I loved the beach. My coach was Roosevelt Romain and he was the one who encouraged me. He saw the potential in me and registered me in many developmental meets at RHAC. It just took off from there.
The VOICE: At what age did you start swimming?
Ziv: I started early. But competitively, I would say from about eight years old.
The VOICE: Who encouraged you to swim?
Ziv: The initial encouragement was from my mother. Then there was Coach Roosevelt Romain. I also challenged myself as I always want to accomplish something.
The VOICE: Do your parents encourage you by supporting you at the various events?
Ziv: Both my parents support me. My mother always attends the various events and is always full of energy. She supports everyone, so sometimes I feel I have other brothers and sisters swimming at these meets. My father encourages me, too, by attending meets when he can and always encourages me to set high standards and goals for myself in whatever I do and to be the best that I can be.
The VOICE: Is anyone else in your family involved in swimming?
Ziv: My cousin, ChrisannFlorius, swims and my other cousin, Kersandra Edwards, always supports by assisting at meets. She swims, but not competitively.
The VOICE: What other sports have you participated in before, and why the switch?
Ziv: I have been exposed to many sports. I love gymnastics but there are no proper facilities here in Saint Lucia for me to continue. I did karate, too, and played volleyball. I did track and field and was a member of the Rockets Athletic Club and then moved to Elites Track and Field where I was exposed to national and international meets in Orlando, Florida and in Jamaica. I still run at school for house meets.
I play table tennis but not at a professional level — just for my house at school. Currently, I play tennis under the guidance of Coach Vernon Lewis and I swim. So there has been no switch. I am an outdoor person and love sports and competitions. I cycle and I also did motocross. My focus now is tennis and swimming. The other sports I do not focus on so much but would love to continue gymnastics and motocross. From a very early age, before all of these sports, I wanted to play football. I still do.
The VOICE: What is your biggest accomplishment in your sports?
Ziv: I have many. The one, however, I can mention is being selected to represent Saint Lucia in every OECS meet from the year 2013. In that year, I was the 8-and-under OECS champion (in November 2013).
The VOICE: Your favourite local swimmer, regional and international, and why?
Ziv: Locally, it is JayhanOdlum-Smith of the Seajays Swim Club because he is excellent at the butterfly. Regionally, it is Alex Joachim of Black Sands Swim Club of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as he is very kind, considerate and very determined. Internationally, it is Ryan Lochte of the United States because he is excellent in the breast stroke.
The VOICE: Who are your sports heroes and what do you admire most about them?
Ziv: My sports heroes are Usain Bolt and Rafael Nadal. Usain Bolt because he is very determined and does not give up and Rafael Nadal because of his strength and stamina on the tennis court.
The VOICE: What is your favourite event in swimming and why?
Ziv: I love breast stroke. It is my favourite event because I can execute it well and often dominate in that stroke. My favourite stroke, however, is the butterfly.
The VOICE: How do you prepare for a championship?
Ziv: Train, train and train. I think of my races and set goals for each. I develop a strategy and execute at times.
The VOICE: How many times have you represented your club/Saint Lucia?
Ziv: I have represented my club many times at every meet possible except for the time I injured my foot and was on crutches. About eleven times representing Saint Lucia, which would include track and field meets.
The VOICE: When was the first time you represented Saint Lucia and when was the last time and which country and championship and how was your performance?
Ziv: I first represented Saint Lucia in swimming when I was about 8 years old at both Goodwill 2013 and OECS 2013 in Barbados and Saint Lucia. In August this year, I was part of the Goodwill Team and travelled to Guyana where I captured two gold medals: one in the 50-metres breast stroke and the other in the 100-metres breast stroke. Psychologically, I was prepared for those events.
The VOICE: How many championships have you won?
Ziv: Once I improve my times, I consider that a win. I have won many locally, and at times, placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd. At the OECS championships in 2013, I succeeded in capturing the Boys 8-and-under championship.
The VOICE: You have been selected on the Saint Lucia squad for the 27th edition of the OECS Championship scheduled for November 10-12. What can one expect from you in terms of performance and in which events will you be competing?
Ziv: I intend to improve my times in all my events. I will try to execute all that my coaches have taught me in practice. But, generally, I aim to improve my performance to obtain CARIFTA times for 13-to-14 age group.
The VOICE: How far you would like to go in representing Saint Lucia in swimming.
Ziv: I intend to represent Saint Lucia at the Olympics.
The VOICE: What do you think are keys to your success?
Ziv: Success is different for everyone. The main things are setting goals and never giving up and having a desire to achieve. Believe in yourself and get strength from God.
The VOICE: From where do you draw your inspiration?
Ziv: I am self-motivated. I like to prove to myself that I can do everything. My inspiration comes from me. I like to challenge myself.
The VOICE: What is your favourite meal/drink?
Ziv: I love seafood: shrimp, lobster and even crab. It does not have to be prepared in any fancy way. I love breadfruit, too, and sometimes green bananas. No favourite meal, in particular. My favourite drink is a smoothie. Again, no particular type, once it has oats and it is sweet.
The VOICE: What do you do during your spare time?
Ziv: During my spare time when I am not training or studying, I go riding, explore the bush with my cousins, go hunting with my father, try to do tricks on my skateboard or anything with wheels, talk to my friends, watch YouTube videos. Just being creative in any way possible. Write poems.
The VOICE: Do you have a saying or a motto you live by?
Ziv: “Behind every negative is a positive”. That was my grandfather’s saying and my mother continues to say it to me. So I try to see the good in every situation. Like looking at a glass half full instead of empty.
The VOICE: What words of advice or encouragement do you have to share with younger athletes at the RHAC?
Ziv: Listen to your coaches. Listen to your parents. They are making a sacrifice for you. Have fun and make yourself proud. Believe in yourself.
The VOICE: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Ziv: I enjoy making people laugh. Also, I am grateful to my parents, coaches, all my friends and sponsors for their continued support.