Last update: 09-Dec-2013 1:43 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Huggins: We can medal at World Juniors
Head coach of the T&T junior national swimming team Franz Huggins is quietly confident that his team of five has what it takes to deliver this country’s best performance yet at the upcoming Fina World Junior Swimming Championships. Tyla Martin, Kristin Julien, Dylan Carter, Jonathan Ramkissoon and Joshua Romany are T&T’s standard bearers for the fourth edition of the event, which is set to run from August 26–31 at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Huggins, who was selected as coach in late July sees the World Junior Championships as a precursor to senior elite meets.
“It is an extremely high quality meet and can be a real springboard for success and a wake-up call. Not doing well here is not the end of the world. However, not learning what it means to be a world beater, after seeing one in the flesh is a crime against the sport. Our athletes, too many times, see the end of the journey as making the team. Learning to be great through practice and observation is critical to this being a success,” said Huggins.
“We want the swimmers on this team to go on to be CAC, Commonwealth and Pan Am medallists and finalists/medallists at World Championships and Olympics. It's not just what you've done as a junior swimmer, it's how you have applied it as you transfer to senior swimming.”
The team has not trained together as a unit but have been the beneficiaries of high level training both at home and overseas. Dylan Carter has been based at Davie Nadadores Swim Club Fort Lauderdale since September. Tyla Martin who lives in the United States trains with Pine Crest Swim Club in Florida. Joshua Romany, Jonathan Ramkissoon and Kristin Julien have been in training mostly at home. Romany of Areios Aquatechs joined Carter in Davie in June to complete preparations with the Davie team. Julien and Ramkissoon also had a two week stint at Davie in June and returned home to train with Titans. Ramkissoon went off to Davie in August while Julien joined Martin in Pine Crest. The trio of Romany, Ramkissoon and Carter are now in Kuwait for acclimatisation training with the Davie Group, while the entire team is expected to be in Dubai by August 24.
Huggins sees training overseas as a positive as the athletes experience training with their peers of similar quality and ambition which allows them to be competitive on a daily basis, and experience training conditions which are more conducive to success.
“I do not disagree with athletes choosing to train abroad. I simply wish that we could do something about lessening the occurrence at junior level as a start. Qualifying for a championship does not make an athlete or a coach successful. We have to perform, and the fact is we have only had one swimmer consistently perform at a high level, and even he has chosen to leave these shores after attempting to train locally,” he added.
As head coach, Huggins sees his role as reinforcing his charges’ good training and providing reassurance that they are in great shape and ready to execute.
“I have been in contact with the primary coaches of all the athletes and know the hard work each and every athlete has put in. I plan to provide them with tips for dealing with situations as they arise as the competition starts. I see myself as that final supportive face they see before going into battle. As much as each coach has done with each athlete, I am responsible for the moral and overall performance of the T&T swim team.”
Huggins, himself is a former national swimmer, was a regional and national age group gold medallist and record holder.
T&T’s highest performance to date is a 17th placed finish by Kimberlee John Williams in the 2011 meet in Peru. Nevertheless, Huggins remains positive about his team’s prospects in Dubai.
“I remain quietly confident that this will be our most successful foray into a World Junior Championships. To date, we have not had anyone go past the opening round of the World Junior meet. My hope is that every one of these athletes does so in at least one event. With some good fortune, we may get a medal or two.”
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