Rochester targets investment for elite swimmers with Olympic Games in mind as Karl Dalhouse Swim Meet to serve as a qualifier

By January 30, 2024
ROCHESTER...We are looking to demonstrate to corporate Jamaica why the ASAJ is a great investment opportunity. ROCHESTER...We are looking to demonstrate to corporate Jamaica why the ASAJ is a great investment opportunity. (Photos: Dwayne Richards)

With the country basically in a rebuilding phase where getting swimmers back on the Olympic stage is concerned, Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) president Lance Rochester says the immediate focus of his administration is to provide the necessary backing to top level athletes, who boast the potential to achieve the feat.

Apart from decorated five-time Olympian Alia Atkinson, only Timothy Wynter and Keanan Dols, who showed at the 2016 and 2020 Games in Rio and Tokyo respectively, have made the step forward in recent times. But with all three now retired, it is left to be seen if and when other Jamaican swimmers will appear on that big stage.

While there are a number of prospects namely Kito Campbell, Zaneta Alvaranga, Sidrell Williams, Emily MacDonald, Sabrina Lyn, Nathaniel Thomas, Kaheem Lozer and Kyle Sinclair, Rochester is well aware that along with hard work, the swimmers –particularly those in universities –also require support, financial and otherwise, to bring their Olympic dream to fruition.

Outside of Williams, who will be hunting qualification to this year’s Paris Olympic Games at the 28th Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Meet, the others are first- and second-year students all in strong university programmes, which include gym and sports psychology.

However, financial assistance could provide an avenue for those swimmers to travel to highly-competitive swim meets in the Americas to further improve their craft.

“Swimming has very, very bright prospects for Jamaica. Not just swimming, but all aquatic sports. What we're focused on now is providing the best investments to those athletes at the elite level who are vying for placement within the Paris Olympic Games and the Olympic cycle right after that,” Rochester told SportsMax.TV during the launch of the Karl Dalhouse meet on Tuesday.

“So, the question is how to invest in them, how to provide them with the right competition experience, locally and overseas, and also the investments in terms of technology and high performance that they will need, so that’s what we are focused on that right now,” he added.

At the same time, Rochester explained that they also have sights set on a long-term project which includes an expansion of swim programmes to both unearth and develop talent right across the island.

“So, we are meeting with regard to our expansion programme targeting more pools, to find the talent that exists in our learn to swim programme and develop it appropriately over time. This of course is a 20-year project, but we're embarking on that starting now,” he shared.

On that note, Rochester pointed to the significance of swim meets such as the Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational in the development of age group swimmers, in particular.

This year’s staging of the meet hosted by Y-Speedos Swim Club, serves as a qualifier to the Paris Olympic Games, and will see over 500 swimmers, including those from four clubs in the Cayman Islands and Florida, parade their skills over three days from Friday (February 2) to Sunday (February 4).

“The Karl Dalhouse meet is exceptionally important and has been for many athletes over the years. Many coaches will time this meet in terms of qualification needs for bigger events. Many coaches will time this meet to ensure their athlete peaks at the right time. It's exceptionally well-organized, well supported by some very fast swimmers overseas and it augurs well for the development of our swimming in Jamaica that we have meets as important as these and others as well,” the president declared.

Finally, Rochester, who recently took office stressed the need for corporate sponsorship, which he said will be critical in terms of achieving their goals to invest in swimmers among other things.

“We are looking to demonstrate to corporate Jamaica why the ASAJ is a great investment opportunity. Swimming, yes, but all our eight aquatic disciplines, how we manage our governance our transparency, our accountability, what we're able to deliver to our athletes with learn to swim, nutrition, sports psychology and producing great athletes over the long term. So, we're encouraging our partners to come on board with us and support us in this mission to develop Jamaica,” Rochester ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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