Swimming Year in Review
Swimmers continue to make steady progress
By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
December 28, 2006

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The Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (GASA) made progress in a number of areas this year. Local swimmers competed in several international competitions and technically, steady improvement was seen at all levels of swimming throughout the year. The Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) nominated the GASA's Secretary, Dr. Karen Pilgrim, to represent them at the 3rd Continental Seminar on Women and Sport which was co-sponsored by Pan American Olympic Solidarity (PASO) and the Mexican Olympic Association. The seminar was hosted in Mexico.

Twenty persons participated in the association's international body, the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) funded Beginners/Intermediate Officials' Training Course. The association was also represented at the GOA's Annual Sports Administrators Course.

Ricardo de Moura, executive member of CONSANAT and Technical Director of the Brazil Swimming Federation, visited Guyana to observe the various aspects of swimming here. Additionally, he met with the major decision-makers who agreed that the first step to improving the sport in the country was obtaining land for constructing a swimming complex with a 50-metre pool.

Overall, more new faces were seen in training and competition while the familiar "old stalwarts" consistently improved on their best times, culminating in new records being set in the GASA's National Swimming Championships. The championships, held in November/December, was by far the most exciting local meet in years with 131 competing in 134 events. A total of 30 new records was set. As always, the GASA assisted individual schools, Zones, and the Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU) with the technical aspects of their swimming competitions.

In international competition, Guyana's Olympic swimmer Onan Thom, along with Earlando McRae and Megan Farrow (diver) competed at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. The swimmers placed first or second in most of their heats but only Thom qualified for the semi-finals in the 50m backstroke. He finished fifteenth overall. Farrow competed against divers from seven other countries and placed 5th in the one-metre springboard and 4th in the three-metre event which was the best showing for Guyana at these Games. Thom and Farrow represented Guyana at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia. However, Farrow did not do nearly as well as expected, while Thom's performance was less disappointing as he managed to make the "B" qualifying time for the 2007 Pan American Games in the 50m freestyle. Thom also represented Guyana at the South American Games that were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

For the first time, FINA held a World Youth Championships for swimmers 17 years and younger. The meet was hosted in Brazil, but, because of limited finances only McRae and coach Nicholas Fraser were able to attend.

Also, a three-member team comprising McRae and brothers Niall and Yannick Roberts represented Guyana at the Carifta Swimming Championships in Barbados. Niall qualified for the finals in the 50m butterfly, placing seventh. McRae also finished seventh in his age-group in this event and fifth in the finals of the 50m breaststroke. Niall was fifth in the 50m freestyle. Their performance led to the trio being included in a Caribbean Long-Course (50m pool) ranking.

After a lapse of a number of years, Director of Sport Neil Kumar revived the Inter-Guiana Games. Swimming was one of the three events which comprised the first half of the Games, which were hosted here. Although the preparation time for the event was short the Guyana team gave a commendable performance for which they earned second place, behind Suriname.

Seven young swimmers qualified for the Goodwill Swimming Championships. However, only five including Jamaal Sobers, Henk Lowe, Linden Wickham, Ronaldo Rodrigues and Serrano Gonsalves participated. The team did Guyana proud by bringing home seven medals. The games were held in Suriname.