2006, encouraging year for local swimming

Kaieteur News
January 8, 2007

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For a number of years swimming was inactive but in recent times, there has been marked improvement, which must be credited to the hard and dedicated work of the Guyana Amateur Swimming Association's (GASA) executive and secretary, Dr. Karen Pilgrim.

In summing up the year, Dr. Pilgrim said it was a fine one with progress made in all areas.

Unlike other association's GASA held their Biennial General Meeting in October but the new executive led by President Phillip Walcott, took up office on January 1st 2007.

According to Dr. Pilgrim, although the sport continued to be plagued throughout the year by the lack of facilities and inadequate access to existing facilities, the limited corps of technical staff and almost zero funding, the sport continues to move forward as evidenced by the number of records broken at GASA Nationals 2006.

“On a scale of one to ten, I would give GASA a rating of “seven” for 2006 and while we have done quite well considering our limitations, there is still room for improvement, we must and will continue to aim for perfection.”

The association is extending appreciation the Office of the President and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport for allowing them access to the Castellani and Colgrain pools respectively and the Guyana Olympic Association for the use of the Michael Parris Gym.

For the first time in at least five years, all programmed local events and some unprogrammed events were conducted at the Castellani Pool.

As part of their outreach programme, GASA assisted individual schools, zones, and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) with the technical aspects of their swimming competitions and will seek to work even more closely with the GTU in 2007 to standardize their swimming events and clarify the rules and programme of their National Swimming Championships.

Although all planned fund-raising activities were carried out as scheduled, more could have been earned with increased support from all members and parents (specifically in donating snacks for food sales and selling of barbeque tickets). Joanne Lowe (newly-elected Vice President Administration/Fund-Raising) has drafted a plan for 2007 which includes more ambitious fund-raising projects, which should net higher levels of income.

Sponsorship might have been more significant if potential donors had received requests earlier. It was indicated that the Programme/Budget for 2007 was to be sent out before the end of last year.

National Records

During the third quarter of the year, the Technical Committee (primarily through the efforts of Nicholas Fraser) completed the long-delayed project of compilation of National Records. This added a new element to the excitement of the National Swimming Championships as, with these records having been included in the Meet Manager database, all new records were instantly recognized.

Steady improvement was seen in the level of swimming throughout the year and as the year matured, more new faces were seen in training and competition, an encouraging sign for the future of the sport. The more familiar old stalwarts consistently improved on their best times, culminating with many records being broken in the GASA National Swimming Championships.

Local and International Competitions

Swimmers were exposed to a number of local and international competitions among them, the Republic Anniversary (Mashramani), Independence Anniversary, Goodwill championship and time trials. Nationals, was by far the most exciting local meet in years with one hundred and thirty-one (131) swimmers competing in one hundred and thirty-four (134) events.

This meet was the first in over five years in which Onan Thom (Guyana's only Olympic swimmer) has competed at home and this inspired the younger swimmers, particularly those against whom he swam in the 15-and-over age-group.

A total of thirty (30) new records were set, with fourteen (14) persons setting new marks.

Internationally, Guyana was represented at the Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia, Carifta championships, Inter-Guiana Games (IGG), Goodwill Swimming Championships in Suriname, Central American & Caribbean (CAC) Games in Columbia where Thom made the qualifying time for the 2007 Pan American Games in the 50m Freestyle, the FINA World Youth Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the South American Games, which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Administrative Development

The Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) nominated Dr. Pilgrim, as their representative at the 3rd Continental Seminar on Women & Sport, which was co-sponsored by the Pan American Olympic Solidarity Organization (PASO) and the Mexican Olympic Association which was held in Mexico in June.

For the first time since 1999, GASA held a 5-day Beginners/Intermediate Officials course (July) sponsored by the International body, Federation Internationale de Natational (FINA), which provides funding for each federation to hold an annual training course. The lecturer, who was Dr. Joel Black, is the Co-Chairman of the USA Swimming National Officials Committee, and a member of USA Swimming Rules Committee.

There were twenty (20) participants, with a variety of backgrounds and varying levels of experience.

They included members of the executives of GASA and Clubs, Parents, Swimmers, Swimming Coaches and Instructors, Physical Education Teachers and members of GASA's Technical Committee. Along with Vice-President Edna Rodrigues and Honorary Treasurer Colin Hodge attended the GOA‘s annual Sports Administrators Course in November.

Meet Management and Meet Manager Programme

Cognizant of the need to improve its record keeping capabilities, the association purchased the Hi-Tech Meet Manager computer programme and this has greatly improved the efficiency of the general management of swimming competitions, better allowing for insertion of swimmers entries, seeding of the meet, entering of results and scoring of points using various systems in a limited time factor.

Perhaps most importantly, the Chief Recorder is able to provide results to the media within half an hour of the completion of events, thereby greatly improving GASA's visibility in the media.

CONSANAT visit/Pool Project

In February, a project proposal was submitted to the South American Swimming Confederation (CONSANAT). This document included all of the major points which must be addressed if the sport of swimming is to move forward in Guyana.

The primary requirement is the construction of a comprehensive swimming facility, including a fifty metre (long-course) competition pool, a twenty-five metre warm-up/warm-down pool, office, gym, conference room, restaurant and spectator stands.

Subsequently, from July 3rd to 6th, Mr. Ricardo de Moura (executive member of CONSANAT and Technical Director of the Brazil Swimming Federation) visited Guyana to see, for himself, the situation with the sport of swimming.

In addition, he met with the major decision-makers who can assist GASA in attaining the dream of having the much-needed swimming complex, including the CEO of the Central Housing & Planning Authority, the President of the GOA, the Minister of Culture, Youth & Sports Dr. Frank Anthony and the Chairman of the National Sports Commission Conrad Plummer.

All of these persons were very encouraging, particularly regarding the all-important first step of obtaining land.


GASA did not make any major appeal for fund-raising during the year under review; the only requests for assistance for international meets were for the Carifta, Goodwill and FINA Youth Championships.

Corporate assistance was obtained from Metro Office & Computer Supplies, Western Union Money Transfer, Banks DIH Limited, Starr Computers, GT&T and the Roti Hut.

A major part of the budget was sustained by in house fund raising activities primarily at local meets and two barbeques.