FINA World Championships in Australia
Guyanese swimmers create history By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
March 24, 2007

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Onan Thom, Yannick Roberts, Nial Roberts and Jamal Sobers create history by becoming the first set of local swimmers to compete in a relay event at an international swimming championships
History was created last evening (Guyana time) when a four-man Guyanese team contested the men's 4x100 freestyle relay at the 12th FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

While no results were available up to press time, Stabroek Sport learnt that the four-man team comprising Onan Thom, Yannick Roberts, Niall Roberts and Jamal Sobers are the first local swimmers to make up a team for a relay event at any major international swimming championship.

Speaking to Stabroek Sport yesterday, Guyana Amateur Swimming Association's General Secretary Dr. Karen Pilgrim said she was not expecting too much from the locals in both the team and individual events, but was optimistic that the exposure at such a grand event would do them well in the future.

"I don't expect too much from them, because as you know they are coming up against great names minus (Ian) Thorpe."

Team manager/ coach Edna Rodrigues in a telephone interview from Australia shared Pilgrim's views on the swimmers' chances of winning medals.

Rodrigues said the four members of the team were in high spirits and were enthusiastic about being in Australia for the championships.

"It's a good experience for them. You could see it in their faces when they saw the pool they would be competing in and the swimmers they would be coming up against. They are making comments about being here (Australia) and being among the big names. I think it will do good for them in the future," Rodrigues stated.

She added:"You're with the best here, you're seeing how they warm-up, their stretching routine and everything else, so the exposure will do them well in the future."

Rodrigues, like Pilgrim, expressed disappointment that the locals' preparation for such a grand event was hampered by the unavailability of the Castellani pool on Homestretch Avenue for one month.

According to Pilgrim, the swimmers were training at the Castellani pool on a daily basis, but one morning they turned up at the facility only to be greeted with a sign which stated that the pool was closed for security reasons.

She said subsequently, through the intervention of Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, the swimmers were able to resume training at the Homestretch Avenue facility, but only during the early morning periods. "They were really put back by that."

Rodrigues in an invited comment on that particular situation said, "It was a big setback for the swimmers. It really threw them back physically and mentally. You need to be focused all the time."

The General Secretary said while she was not expecting anything great from the locals, she personally wanted them to register personal best times as well as make the qualifying time for the Pan American Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in July this year.

Apart from the men's 4X100-metre freestyle event, Niall Roberts, Sobers and Thom were down to contest individual events also.

Niall Roberts and Sobers were scheduled to contest the men's 50-metre freestyle heats, while Thom was listed to compete in the men's 100-metre breaststroke.

Apart from those events, Niall Roberts will also contest the 50-metre breaststroke, the 50-metre freestyle and the 100-metre freestyle events while Yannick Roberts will contest the 50, 100 and 200-metre freestyle races as well as the 100-metre backstroke events.

Thom will also compete in the men's 50-metre breaststroke and the 50-metre back stroke events.

Sobers, on the other hand, is down to contest the 50 and 100-metre back stroke races as well as the 200-metre freestyle event.