Newly elected Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) president Lance Rochester says his administration intends to hit the ground running to execute on their vision to achieve growth, and, by extension, move aquatic sports forward.

Rochester, who is the former vice-president in charge of water polo, takes the reins from Martin Lyn, as he found overwhelming favour with delegates, during the ASAJ’s Annual General Meeting at the National Aquatic Centre on Tuesday.

He tallied 46 votes to Georgia Sinclair’s seven in the election process, which was managed by Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda.

Along with Sinclair, the former vice-president in charge of swimming, incumbent Shauna Jackson, was also ousted from the Secretary position by former Treasurer Florence Grizzle-Williams.

Grizzle-Williams earned 40 votes to Jackson’s 12, while Robyn-Ann Chin Sang was unopposed for her post of vice-president in charge of artistic swimming, and Marlon McIntyre has taken over as vice-president in charge of water polo. Richard Hopkins and Michelle Parker, who will serve as treasurer and assistant treasurer respectively, complete the administration.

Rochester pointed out that his first order of business for his administration is to restore accountability and integrity to the association by demonstrating good governance skills.

“It is a very humbling experience to have received the support of a majority of delegates, it is clear that the vision which was outlined connected with members and I am very excited about the opportunities to come, and also to execute what has been outlined,” Rochester told SportsMax.TV.

“I must say I am grateful for the support which the outgoing members provided to this association over the past few years. Sports administration is very challenging and demanding, and so we have to be grateful to those who choose to serve, and of course if they are able to lend support in some other capacity going forward, I am keen to receive that support,” he added.

While admitting that he feels some pressure to deliver accordingly, Rochester explained that he is mentally and strategically prepared to ensure his administration’s two-year term will be a fruitful one.

“Of course, there is pressure to deliver because the vision that was outlined was a bold vision, but the good thing is that I am not alone in this because we have a very strong team that is keen on working to execute,” he declared.

“One of the central objectives is not only to develop an all-island and grassroots programme to ensure that we are identifying talent early, and developing that talent appropriately, but also to ensure that Jamaican boys and girls right across the country are learning how to swim because swimming is an essential life skill.

“We are also moving to develop a high-performance programme to ensure that we are providing the most value and support to our club and national level athletes,” Rochester shared.

Newly elected administration

President – Lance Rochester

1st Vice President – Dr Hilary Nixon in charge of Swimming

2nd Vice President – Robyn-Ann Chin Sang in charge of Artist Swimming

3rd Vice President – Marlon McIntyre in charge of Water Polo 

General Secretary – Florence Grizzle-Williams

Treasurer – Richard Hopkins

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer – Michelle Parker

Bahamas remains in firm control of the 27th Goodwill Swimming Championships, as they have accounted for a number of the 45 records broken so far and rightly heads both the points and medals standings heading into Sunday's final day.

With Siann Isaacs leading their record charge on Friday's opening day, the Bahamians picked up where they left off and were responsible for 14 of the 25 records broken on an action-packed second day of action at the National Aquatics Centre on Saturday.

By virtue of their exploits, Bahamas heads the combined standings with 993.5 points, almost 200 points ahead of Jamaica on 785.5, with Trinidad and Tobago (645 points) in third.

Barbados (523 points), Suriname (380.5 points), St Lucia (140.5 points) and Grenada (three points), round off the table.

On the medals card, Bahamas have so far secured 91 medals (42 gold, 28 silver and 21 bronze), ahead of Barbados (16 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze), followed by Trinidad and Tobago (13 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze) and Jamaica (10 gold, 21 silver and 26 bronze). Suriname (four gold, 11 silver and eight bronze) and St Lucia (two silver and three bronze) are next.

With the hype and anticipation surrounding the three-day meet, the Caribbean's young sensations were never out to disappoint and much like she did on the first day, Isaacs, who has been in impressive form, again made the first splash where the record count is concerned on Saturday.

Isaacs led a Bahamas one-three finish in the girls' 11-12 200m individual medley (IM). She won in 2:46.69 to lower the previous mark of 2:49.17 set by Kaeyn Djoparto in 2019, finishing ahead of Suriname's Elya Powdar (2:48.15) and compatriot Samirah Donaldson (2:55.00).

Suriname's Joshua Busropan accounted for the boys' 13-14 200m IM record, clocking 2:27.72 which lowered the previous best of 2:28.77 set by Curaçao's Reyan Holder in 2019. He won ahead of the Jamaican pair of Matthew Kennedy (2:29.32) and Julian Willoughby (2:30.56).

The 50m freestyle sequence offer much excitement with Kaija Eastmond of Barbados topping the girls' 9-10 event in 30.09s. That time erased the old mark of 30.28s set by Trinidad and Tobago's Keryn Burke in 2019. 

Taylen Nicolls (30.39s) of Bahamas and Aliyah Greaves (30.66s), also of Barbados, took the minor placing.

Nitayo Knowles of Bahamas also clocked a record 29.15s to win the boys' 9-10 event. He bettered Liam Carrington's previous time of 29.54s, as he turned back the challenge of Jamaican duo Noah Parker (30.69s) and Joel Sinclair (31.12s).

Christin-Alyssa Clarke (29.53s) led home Isaacs (29.93s) in a Bahamas one-two finish in the girls' 11-12 event, with Jamaica's Zuri Coke (30.02s) in third. Clarke's winning time erased the 30.23s set by Jamaica's Rebekah King in 2019.

The boys' 11-12 event also saw a record-breaking performance from Sean-Verno Dipokromo (27.31s) of Suriname. His winning time shattered the 27.83s which Guyana's Jaleel Anderson set in 2019.

Trinidad and Tobago's Shian Griffiths (28.07s) and Elliot Reid (28.22s) of Barbados, were second and third respectively. 

Renae Chung (28.24s) and Noire Hunter (28.88s) secured a one-three finish for Jamaica in the girls' 13-14 event, separated by Ayoka Martin (28.35s) of Barbados.

Jamaica's Willoughby continued the record-breaking exploits in the boys' 13-14 event when he clocked 25.83s to lower 26.11s set by another Jamaican Nyles Davis in 2019. Busropan (26.18s) of Suriname and Lenin Hamilton (26.24s) of Bahamas, were second and third.

Bahamas won the girls' 15-17 event courtesy of Lauren Bridgewater (28.64s) ahead of Trinidad and Tobago's Zahara Alexander (28.73s) and Asha Davis (29.12s) of Jamaica. 

The Bahamians celebrations intensified after the boys' 15-17 event, as Tristin Ferguson (24.35s) led a sweep with compatriots Caleb Ferguson (24.81s) and Zion Gibson (25.69s) joins him on the podium. The winning time erased the old mark of 28.54s set by Suriname's Hendrik Powdar in 2019.

From there, the swimmers moved into the 100m breaststroke sequence where a number of athletes, namely, Eastmond, Donaldson and Willoughby, among others again etched their names in the record books, before moving into the 50m butterfly sequence. 

During that quick sprint, the outstanding Bajan Eastmond again topped rivals in record time, with Clarke of Bahamas, Brandon Balfour of the twin island republic and Jamaica's captain Khiara Roomes, also getting in on the action.

And much like they started the day, Bahamas brought the curtains down on day two on a high, topping the girls' and boys' 15-17 400m freestyle relays in record times.

The team of Bridgewater, Grace Farrington, Tia-Isabella Adderley and Bianca Johnson clocked 4:17.23 in victory, smashing 4:28.13 set by Suriname in 2019. Trinidad and Tobago (4:22.95) and Jamaica (4:30.65), were second and third respectively. 

In the boys' event, the two Fergusons combined with Ayrton Moncur and Gibson to win in 3:46.09, ahead of Jamaica (3:52.91) and Trinidad and Tobago (4:01.58). Bahamas winning time lowered Trinidad and Tobago's 3:48.99 set in 2019.

After months of hard work and training, a number of the Caribbean’s young swimming sensations will put their preparation to the test when they dive into action at the 27th staging of the much-anticipated Goodwill Swimming Championships, which gets under way on Friday.

In fact, Jamaica’s Head coach Gillian Millwood believes the highly competitive three-day meet represents an opportunity for swimmers to not only improve, but also to learn valuable lessons to take with them as they prepare to transition to next level competition.

Over 200 swimmers from Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Turks and Caicos are expected to join their Jamaican counterparts in action at the National Aquatic Centre.

“I’m excited for our athletes and I anticipate that they will go into each race with enthusiasm and more importantly, purpose. They are filled with incredible abilities and have worked extremely hard to get where they are today and we expect to see that on display across the three days,” Millwood told Sportsmax.tv.

“Goodwill this weekend provides an opportunity for them to rise to the occasion and put forward their best race together and also to make memories with their teammates and the new friends they’ll make from the other countries, as they prepare to move to a next level,” she added.

Friday’s schedule will be highlighted by the 100m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, 4x50m mixed freestyle relay and 4x100m freestyle relay, all after an opening ceremony at 4:30pm.

Action for Saturday and Sunday is scheduled to begin at 9:00am and end at 1:00pm.

The Jamaicans will be seeking to surpass last year’s massive haul of 92 medals (33 gold, 37 silver, 22 bronze), which bettered their previous best tally of 65 medals from the 2019 staging in Suriname.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago, though missing some of their better swimmers to CCCAN duties in El Salvador, are favoured to once again top the points standing, as they topped last year’s event with 1,442 points. Jamaica (1,002 points), with Barbados (723 points), third.

Each National Federation has a maximum of 40 swimmers - four boys and four girls in the age groups eight and under, 9 to 10, 11 to 12, 13 to 14 and 15 to 17.

The member countries of the Goodwill Swimming Championship host the meet on an annual rotation basis. Trinidad and Tobago were last year’s hosts.

With the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN) championships beckoning, Jamaica's swimmers and officials are buzzing about the possibilities, as they gear up for tough competition in El Salvador.

The 17-member team to be headed by coach Kafia Rapley is currently very active in preparation and will have another week or two to put the final pieces in place ahead of their August 12 departure.

During that build up period, the Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) will also be seeking to bridge the gap in $6.1 million budget to ease pressure off the parents in getting the team to the championships scheduled for August 14-18.

Though they have made some inroads, with other potential sponsors making commitments to come on board, ASAJ president Martin Lyn says they welcome those who would want to offer further assistance at this point.

“CCCAN is a parent supported event with a very big budget, we have gotten some of that money so far and we have other sponsors coming on board. But we certainly welcome if anybody else wants to come on board because that would only be good for us and the swimmers because the reality is that this is a very big championship for us,” Lyn told reporters during a press briefing at the National Aquatic Centre on Thursday.

While the administration oversees that aspect of things, Head coach Rapley is more focused on having the athletes mentally and physically prepared to showcase their prowess against the likes of Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico, as well as Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados, and of course, the host nation, among others.

A few of the country’s standout swimmers in last year’s team captain Zaneta Alvaranga, Sabrina Lyn, who recently competed at the World Aquatic Championships and Kito Campbell, who recently broke a national record, are noticeably absentees from the team.

“Preparation has been going well, we currently meet twice per week to do team building, bonding and also training. Not having some of the more senior swimmers is beyond our control and their presence will certainly be missed, but the swimmers that will travel are expected to be competitive,” Rapley told journalists.

Following a number of superb performances at the Carifta Swimming Championships earlier this year, Jamaica's contingent will no doubt embark on a quest to make further inroads on the regional rankings.

Though admitting that matching and, by extension, surpassing last year’s 25-medal haul, will take some doing with this small contingent, she believes a number of personal best times could certainly be rewritten when the Jamaicans take to the pool at this year's five-day championship.

Jamaica also placed fifth on the point standings last year, with 418.5 points, behind Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Bahamas, in that order.

“With a smaller team it's going to be very difficult to match or surpass last year's tally, but what I am looking forward to is our relay teams because those combinations will be very competitive. I don't see why we shouldn't come out with podium finishes there. Individually, the swimmers are doing well but again, to match last year's haul will be a stretch,” Rapley shared.

That said, Rianna Scott, the lone female in the 13-14 age group, overseas-based Carolyn Levy-Powell and 15-17 swimmers Leanna Wainwright and Devaughn Robe, who both qualified for the World Aquatic Junior Championships, are expected to lead the medal charge.

“Some of these swimmers are the future of Jamaica's Aquatics, they are coming from the Carifta Games and most if not all of them competed at the Goodwill Games last year, so they have literally been through every phase of competition representing the country,” Rapley said.

“You have swimmers like Jessica Denniston, who won gold at the Carifta Games, Kai Radcliffe, who has several regional medals and Waldon McIntosh, who has won several medals at this very championship. We also have a few first-timers for CCCAN and we are going to see how they do and what they are made of. So, I'm satisfied with what I have, I'm liaising with the overseas athletes and their coaches to ensure that they are in good health and good spirits,” she ended.

Team: Kia Alert, Jessica Denniston, Nolan Barrett, Cameron Brown, Adlaine Nixon, Rianna Scott, Kai Radcliffe, Waldon McIntosh, Nathan Wright, Zack-Andre Johnson, Carolyn Levy-Powell, Leanna Wainwright, Benjamin Davis, Charles McIntosh, Devaughn Robe, Lia Forrester, Kaheem Lozer

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