Its day three of the 20th edition of the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre (RHAC) International Invitational Swim Meet, and as predicted by the organizers the event has attracted a record 400 swimmers representing 24 clubs from seven Caribbean Islands including host Saint Lucia.
Today, the showpiece starts at 9.00 a.m. with the 800 meters freestyle for boys and girls. The various teams are now locked in battle to see who will dethrone last year’s champions Seajays Swim Club from Saint Lucia and as is customary, the loud shouts and screams coming from coaches and parents will be heard in the distance.
Following Thursday evening’s first session in the pool there was the official opening ceremony on Friday morning and an emotional passing of the Baton from the original Proprietor/Managing Director Dr. Diane Worrell to her son, Bradford Worrell, a former national swimmer.
Friday morning’s session started with the march past of teams, followed by an opening prayer by Reverend Seth Amphadu of the Castries Methodist Church, the playing of the national anthem and the reading of the Athlete and Officials Oaths by Sapher Thomas of Martinique and John Bruce of Saint Lucia.
Addressing the gathering was former Saint Lucia Olympic Committee Inc. President, Richard Peterkin. He said, “It’s the 20th anniversary of RHAC and its happening during Saint Lucia’s 40th anniversary of Independence. Swimming and RHAC have been doing a lot over the years to develop the sport.”
Peterkin continued, “To be honest with you, if it had not been for that decision the Worrell’s took more than 20 years ago privately, swimming would not be where it is today and for that reason we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Worrells for what they have done.”
President of the Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation, Eddy Hazell in his brief stay at the lectern, thanked all the participants from near and far for coming to celebrate the historical occasion with the Rodney Heights Aquatic Centre, 20 years and counting.
He said, “The SLAF has sanctioned and supported this event in all forms and fashion to make sure it comes off without a hitch. The new modification that you have seen at the facility is assisted and facilitated by the federation. We will continue to work and assist the RHAC and whatever facility that is built around the island, this one will remain dear to our hearts.”
He also encouraged swimmers to not only compete, but have fun and enjoy themselves while in Saint Lucia.
For her part, an emotional Dr. Diane Worrell said, “On this 20th occasion I thank you for coming to celebrate. Our theme is “Friendship through Competition”. My words will be short and sweet.”
“I give you my son, Bradford Worrell,” she said. “It’s because of Bradford and my children that this facility is here. Bradford also has the company of others on the deck such as Jamie Peterkin and Peter James who were here from the inception of this facility.
She said, “I will now pass the baton to Bradford Worrell to lead you forward when you come here for the next 20 years.”
“This is my first time getting a chance to talk at this Meet,” Diane’s son Bradford addressed the gathering. “Over the 20 years, I have competed 15 times at this meet. I was at the first one and my last one was in 2014. We have come a long way as a country to have this facility and be able to host this magnitude of a Meet. I really appreciate everybody for showing up and putting their best performances out there as we look forward to a great Meet.”
“We come together as countries, as friends and we enjoy the comradery,” he added. “Coming back on deck as a coach and having swum with a lot of the coaches presently on deck now, it is a familiar family setting. We are all family and I hope we can enjoy this championship and keep the energy level up,” said Bradford.
Officials for the championship are Jury of Appeal: Akim John – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Maurice Sullivan – Barbados; Aphane John – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Sandra Derrick – Antigua and Barbuda.
Referees: Edith Clashing – Antigua and Barbuda; Hilroy Emanus – Saint Lucia. Meet Director- Dr. Diane Worrell and Head of officials John Bruce – Saint Lucia (timekeepers).